§213 No peace without true democracy – Sharansky and EidAugust 13, 2008
A known ex-politician in Israel, Nathan Sharansky, and a well known Palestinian human rights activist, Bassem Eid, launched together a very good article in the Wall Street Journal on August 8th about the current situation here in Israel.
There can be no peace without a democratic rule in the Palestinian areas.
Israel, America and the free world share much of the blame for this fiasco. As Arafat and his Fatah party were busy hollowing out Palestinian civil society and turning control of the Palestinian economy over to corrupt cronies, the world showered them with money and diplomatic support. Hundreds of millions of dollars were transferred to Arafat’s private slush fund so that he could “strengthen” his standing among the Palestinians.
Palestinians have suffered greatly for this neglect of democracy. Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, internecine violence has reached unprecedented heights. According to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, the death toll includes: 122 killed in the streets (suspected collaborators), 41 by capital punishment, 34 honor killings, 48 stabbed to death, seven beaten to death, 258 killed under mysterious circumstances and 818 cases of gunfire. So far no one has been charged let alone tried for any of these unlawful killings.
Where is the money that was supposedly spent on reforming the judicial system? Where is the international outrage as Palestinian leaders drag their own society further into the abyss?
When one of us [Bassem Eid] worked for Israel’s Betselem cataloging Israel’s human-rights violations, the international community embraced every report. But when intellectual honesty demanded that he monitor Palestinian human-rights violations according to the same standards, no one was interested. Those reports were dismissed as undermining the Palestinian leaders — first Arafat and now Mr. Abbas — who would make peace with Israel.
If Israelis and Palestinians are to pave a path toward peace, they must pursue a radically different course. The peace process must be linked to building and strengthening Palestinian civil society. In June 2002, President Bush boldly declared a vision based on such a course and took some steps to implement it — such as refusing to deal with corrupt leaders (Arafat), and meeting Palestinian democratic dissidents. But in the final analysis, his administration did not fundamentally change direction. It is now pursuing a course that essentially resuscitates the failed policies of the past.
It is high time that Palestinian civil society be fully recognized by the international community as a prerequisite to peace, not as an obstacle to it. If Palestinian civil society is not empowered, the Fatah-controlled West Bank may soon be ruled by Hamas, and Fatah leaders there may find themselves one day having to rely on Israel’s Supreme Court to save them.”
Read the full article here: