Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
February 16, 2010 - 1:00am

Ibish at BrandeisATFP Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish addressed a group of about 50 faculty, students and community members at a brown bag lunch at Brandeis University on Tuesday, February 9, 2010. Ibish evaluated different scenarios for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and focused a good deal of his remarks on the positive impact and serious prospects of the PA state and institution building initiative. He said the occupation was unacceptable and unmanageable, and without a two-state agreement that allows for an end to the occupation and two states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace, the process of deterioration into an increasingly bitter, intractable and religiously fanatic war was virtually inevitable.

He dismissed "fanciful notions" that would not be acceptable to the parties who are supposed to agree to it such as the "Jordanian option" in which Jordan would be compelled to assume responsibility for parts of the West Bank and Egypt for Gaza; a single democratic state for all Israelis and Palestinians, including refugees; and an Islamic state or a greater Israeli state in the whole of mandatory Palestine. Ibish emphasized that any idea presenting itself as a solution had to be potentially acceptable to the parties that would have to agree to it. He said that, "Ideas that do not meet this criterion are not 'solutions' or real ideas as such, they are excuses for not having real ideas that constitute potential solutions. They are not ideas, they are the box that idea came in, and when you open it up and look inside it's empty, and you've been ripped off."

Ibish said that hope for the eventual realization of a two-state agreement rests on the political and strategic necessity that all parties have in accomplishing this result, and pointed to the new Palestinian Authority state and institution building agenda unveiled in August as a new source of momentum for that goal. Ibish said, "At the moment, it is the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad that is taking the lead in finding such a formula through the state and institution-building program it adopted last August (key documents can be found on the ATFP website). The program calls for Palestinians to unilaterally build the administrative, economic and institutional framework of an independent state in spite of, and as a peaceful, constructive means of countering, the occupation."

He told the Brandeis audience, "This agenda might be conceptualized as the Palestinian answer to Israeli settlement building by creating positive, unilateral new facts on the ground that restructure the strategic equation, but with the crucial difference that, unlike settlement activity, it is perfectly consistent with international law, welcomed by the international community, and promotes rather than hinders prospects for a peace agreement." In particular, Ibish cited the recent speech by PM Fayyad at the Herzliya conference in Israel as a watershed moment, because Fayyad had laid out the logic of his vision and the determination of Palestinians to establish their own state in the occupied territories and received warm applause from an audience composed primarily of the Israeli political and national security elites. He cited praise from Israeli commentators such as Alex Fishman and Dov Weissglas in Yedioth Ahronoth and Ben Capsit in Ma'ariv, but all written only in Hebrew and none translated into English yet by their own papers. He told the audience that, "If the real commitment is there, international actors must launch a multi-year, coordinated and global effort to help the PA build the infrastructure of the Palestinian state everyone says is the key to peace."


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