Tuesday, May 24, 2011

US Campaign's Nadia Hijab on CNN: "Palestinians must be equal."

Nadia Hijab is a member of our Advisory Board, and is director of Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network. The same questions below were also answered by Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of The Palestine Center in Washington, D.C., which is a coalition member in the US Campaign. Munayyer's answers can be read here.

Nadia Hijab: 'Israel needs to be a state in which all citizens are equal'

By Jay Kernis, Senior Producer

After his meeting with President Obama on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines - because these lines are indefensible; because they don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years." 
In your point of view, does that line in the sand slow down the possibility of new peace negotiations, or offer some possibilities?
"Good question, because this is really a key issue. Under the law, Israel has  to withdraw from all the territory it occupied in 1967, just like it did when it withdrew from Egypt’s Sinai desert.
"The core principle of international law - that territory cannot be acquired by force - is the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which Israel actually accepted in 1967.  The 1967 borders have been the basis of peace negotiations for 44 years.
"Yet Israel has grabbed about 60% of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem for its illegal settlements. If Israel really wants peace, it got to stop taking Palestinian land."
Netanyahu also said, "Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas.  Hamas, as the President said, is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction."
On Tuesday, he added, "Why has peace not been achieved?  Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state, if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it."
Why does Hamas take that extreme position against the existence of Israel as a Jewish homeland-and do you believe Hamas always will?
"Countries, like people, make enemies - and peace is negotiated between enemies. If you’re friends, then there’s no problem!
"Although Hamas and Israel are enemies, Hamas has clearly stated its acceptance of a two state solution based on the 1967 borders. Netanyahu has specifically rejected such a solution.
?Hamas has also accepted that Mahmoud Abbas will, as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, be responsible for negotiations, and the PLO has recognizedIsrael. The truth is that most Palestinians don’t believe that Israel wants peace because it keeps taking Palestinian land and water and prevents them from traveling to or within Palestine whenever it wants to. Israel announced it wants to build yet another 1,500 illegal homes in occupied East Jerusalem just before Netanyahu came to the United States.
"Since 1967,Israelhas illegally settled 650,000 Israelis on Palestinian land - by Netanyahu's own count. Netanyahu need look no further than his own government's actions for an answer to his question of 'why has peace not been achieved.'"