Middle East Muddle by Derek Wyatt
Neither America nor Britain has a clue on how to bring peace to the Middle East. The Quartet led by Tony Blair has given new meaning to the word anaemic. There's no chance of a two state solution ever happening. President Obama's recent visit to Israel produced nothing more than warm words. William Hague has no leeway at all since the department he runs, irrespective of who is in government, has been distinctly pro-Israeli for the past twenty years or more.
There are only two solutions to the Palestinian issue. The first is to ditch the two country scenario. Let there be a greater Palestine (but possibly not with that name) including both Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. This would necessitate two separate parliaments with an overriding Senate comprising members of both parliaments. Jerusalem would still be an issue though the Senate might be placed there.
Before you come to the conclusion that I'm a sandwich short of a picnic, there isn't the slightest chance this will ever happen. Politicians rarely know their history. They deal with today and sometimes tomorrow. There are no votes in yesterday.
A million people marched against Iraq ten years ago but it did not stop the Bush-Blair coalition going to war. What a disaster that has proved and along with a repeat performance in Afghanistan a line in the sand has been drawn. It marks the beginning of the end of American military power. Britain has been neutered since Suez.
So let's look at history and see if it can help us. In 1947, we caved in, in India. Gandhi suggested a greater India with an independent Bengal. The wretched Jinnah wanted a Muslim state. Britain just wanted out. In the end a ludicrous solution was agreed and a new nation, Pakistan, was born. Except, except Pakistan was a divided Muslim country with its central bank in West Pakistan and its parliament in East Pakistan just over a thousand miles away. In between stood a secular India.
What happened eventually was a brutal civil war between the two parts of Pakistan in 1971 out of which came independence for East Pakistan and the new nation of Bangladesh. Gandhi's solution might have been the answer........
If we turn out thoughts to the Quartet's solution - and for that matter everyone else's except possibly Israel - we are suggesting a West Pakistan (Gaza) and an East Pakistan (West Bank) with Israel in between with no solution for Jerusalem. This is potty. How do you run two parts of a country with an interloper in between? You don't. The solution is for three states - Israel but not with its current boundaries, Palestine (West Bank) and Gaza.
This still leaves the thorny issue of Jerusalem which is claimed by the Jews, by Christians and by Muslims. Tricky. What about borrowing the model which the Catholic Church reached with Mussolini over the creation of the Vatican City by initiating Jerusalem as a religious city operating independently from either Palestine or Israel? It must be worth a try.
Of course, an independent Gaza might still oppose the very existence of Israel and if it does the likelihood is that there will be an almighty war which can only have one result: the annexation of Gaza by Israel. An independent Gaza gives its people their only chance for nationhood and peace.