Palestinians Admire Israeli Democracy

(Foreign Policy) Michael Oren - Israel has forged the Middle East's first genuinely functional democracy. At 64, Israel is older than more than half of the democracies in the world and belongs to a tiny group of countries never to have suffered intervals of non-democratic governance. Israeli democracy, according to pollster Khalil Shikaki, topped the U.S. as the most admired government in the world - by the Palestinians. Criticism of Israeli democracy derives from the situation in the West Bank, captured by Israel in a defensive war with Jordan in 1967. The fact that the Israelis and Palestinians living in those territories exercise different rights is certainly anomalous. The existence of partially democratic enclaves within a democratic system does not necessarily discredit it. Residents of Washington, D.C., are taxed without representation, while those in the U.S. territories - Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands - cannot vote in presidential elections. Anomalies exist in every democracy. But because of its commitment to remaining a Jewish and democratic state, Israel is striving to end that aberration and resolve the century-long conflict with the Palestinians. The solution is two states - the Jewish state of Israel and the Palestinian state of Palestine - living side by side in mutual recognition, security, and peace. Israel proffered offers for such an arrangement in 2000 and 2008, and withdrew both its military and civilian citizens from Gaza to enable the Palestinians to create a peaceful prototype state. The Palestinians have rejected Israel's multiple offers of independence. During their last elections, the majority of the Palestinian people voted for Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction which has transformed Gaza into a terrorist mini-state. In recent years, Palestinian Authority leaders have balked at direct negotiations with Israel, preferring instead to seek independence unilaterally without making peace and pursue reconciliation with Hamas. As impediments to peace, settlements pale beside those posed by Palestinian support for terror and the rejection of Israel's right to exist as a secure and legitimate Jewish state. The writer is the Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

2012-04-06 00:00:00

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