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Friday, March 30, 2007

You can't always get what you want...

Okay, they wouldn't let me near Heather Graham, so I'm back.

I see some foot-dragging going on in Israel over the Arab League plan for a lasting peace settlement in the region.

Beleaguered Israeli leader Ehud Olmert, who faces a lot of criticism at home for losing a war with Hizbollah last summer, is quite right to describe the plan as revolutionary, even though it amounts to pretty much what the Arabs offered in 2002.

The difference between then and now is that in 2002, the intifada was at its height, whereas now there's an elected Palestinian government.

The deal on the table for Israel is simple, as most good deals are. Return to the 1967 borders (ie keep the land you stole in 1948, but not the extra land you've been stealing since) and you get normal relations with all your Arab neighbours.

Israel might rather hogtrade for a bit of land around Jerusalem and various settlements in the West Bank, but they ought to give these up and accept the deal on the table. It's the only solution for a lasting two-state settlement that might allow Israelis to normalise their society and live in peace in their region at long last.

The Arabs want to see the right of return, ie all the Palestinians in refugee camps since 1948 be allowed to return to where they were expelled from within Israel. That would obviously undermine the Jewishness of the theocracy, so they don't want to agree to that.

One solution might be to take some of those arms-dealing and diamond industry profits sloshing around Israel and put it into a compensation fund for the refugees, to help them build new lives outside of refugee camps, possibly within a Palestinian State.

You can't always get what you want, as the song goes. Israel will never get a better offer than this, and the Arabs won't be able to force them on the right to return while America props up the apartheid state.

But as we've found in Northern Ireland, if everyone takes a leap of faith and compromises a bit, you just might get what you need.

A solution for the Holy Land after nearly six decades is finally with everyone's grasp. Let's hope they take it.

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