We Back A Two-State Solution, So Time To Recognise Both

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From top: Isreali Defence Forces at the Qalandiya Crossing, a passageway for Palestinian labourers from the Ramallah area to cross into Jerusalem; Derek Mooney

The story of the kerfuffle caused by the Lord Mayor of Dublin’s trip to the West Bank reminded me of how my own ill-fated trip there, back in 2004.

That visit ended in me sitting in my boxers in a security room in Ben Gurion Airport. A fate fortunately not visited on our city’s first citizen.

I had been visiting Israel and the West Bank along with three colleagues. We were part of a group from Glencree that was organising study visits to Ireland by Israeli and Palestinian politicians to meet key players in the Irish peace process, both North and South.

Our purpose was to catch up with some of those who had been on the last visit and prepare for the next one. Our four-day trip, had been planned in conjunction with our Department of Foreign affairs and had the support of the Israeli Embassy in Dublin.

It included meetings with Israeli politicians and officials in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and an overnight stay for two of us in Ramallah in the West Bank, where we would meet politicians and officials from the Palestinian side.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, had died a few weeks earlier. So, when the two of us reached Ramallah, which is just a short drive from Jerusalem, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council was now the acting President, and his deputy, a very charming GP who had trained in Dublin, was the Acting Speaker.

The acting speaker could not have been more welcoming, both in his office – where he talked fondly of his time as a medical student in Dublin – and on the floor of the Council chamber where he formally welcomed us to Ramallah and wished our project well.

This was all shown on Palestinian TV later that night – a channel that is watched assiduously by Israeli military intelligence.

He then brought us to visit Chairman Arafat’s tomb, where I was asked to lay a wreath (which I still swear to this day, I had to pay for on the spot). Another event that made it on to the Ramallah 6.01 News.

The following day we returned to Jerusalem via the dreadful Kalandia/Qalandiya crossing where ordinary West Bank Palestinians queue for hours to go through this highly militarised and barbed wire strewn checkpoint to get into Israel.

Before we returned to our hotel in old East Jerusalem we had a quick detour back to Tel Aviv for a last-minute meeting with the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, Amos Gilead – a meeting which his office had requested, as he wanted to talk with us about the Northern Ireland peace process.

Early the following morning two of us headed for home, leaving our colleagues to stay another night and finish off the itinerary. One of them borrowed my travel adaptor.

The hotel had ordered a taxi to take us to Ben Gurion airport. As you would expect Israeli airport security is tight, very tight. You are advised to arrive at least three or four hours ahead of your flight to allow time for all the checks. We were about four hours early.

As we queued up to leave in our suitcases, I heard an official call my name. I went with him, handed in my suitcase, watched it go through the scanner and then, rather than proceeding through the rest of the lengthy security screening channel with the rest of the passengers, including my colleague, I was invited to join the official in an interview room. Not a good omen.

There two army officers were waiting to have a chat with me. They took my passport, my mobile phone and my laptop bag and put them to one side. I could see pictures of me in Ramallah in the folder in front of them.

They then proceeded to ask me about the purpose of my trip. I produced my letters of introduction from the Israeli ambassador, explained why we were there and indicated generally what we had been doing. The questioning continued for about 40 minutes. The two officers then left the room.

When they returned they said they wanted to search me. I was told to remove my belt, shoes, trousers and jacket, these all were taken away. I was then asked to unbutton my shirt. “Would you not buy me a few drinks and dinner first?” was the question that popped into my mind – but luckily it stopped there and never made it to my mouth.

They next turned their attention to my mobile phone and laptop. Through habit I had turned my mobile off as I was queing up. They asked for my pin number. I refused.

They then tried to turn on my laptop. I had not switched it off properly the night before and so the battery was flat. They found the charger but saw that it came with big UK/Ireland three pin plug. Israeli sockets are like US ones, though with V shaped slots.

They asked for the adaptor. I explained that I had given it to one of my colleagues. How could they charge my laptop to see what was on it, they asked?

Seeing that we were in an airport, I suggested that one of them pop down to the travel shop and buy one. They were not amused. I then explained that even if they could get the laptop recharged that I had no intention of giving them the password.

I then reminded them that my visit had been organised in conjunction with the Israeli foreign ministry and that I the night before I had been meeting with their boss, Amos Gilead at the Israeli Defence department. They were unfazed.

After a few more pointless questions and even more pointless answers, they left me alone in the interview room for another hour or so.

About 20 minutes before my flight was due to depart, I was handed back my phone and laptop, given my boarding pass and the rest of my clothes and then rushed through the terminal and escorted on to the flight. I was the last one to board.

Luckily, I was allowed to make my own way to my seat, though arriving in a state of semi undress did mean that the elderly woman seated next to me avoided all eye contact for the whole of the flight.

I mention this as I have a business contact who once ended up being marched up to his seat in handcuffs.

His ‘crime’ was doing a quick overnight trip to speak at a conference in Tel Aviv and not being able to tell airport security afterwards the name of the hotel where he stayed – he hadn’t booked it and all business hotel rooms look alike – or explain why the sum total of his luggage consisted of old socks and briefs tucked into his laptop case.

So, apart from now being an amusing anecdote, is there a serious point to all of this? Yes, there are two.

The first, is that the Israeli authorities treat their friends and allies every bit as badly as they treat their foes. This goes for Israelis as much as it goes for outsiders.

Which brings me to the second and more important point. While we are right to be highly critical of the Israeli government, especially Netanyahu’s hawkishness, we should not forget that there are many moderate and progressive Israelis who still believe in the two-state solution and who recognise that, just as in Northern Ireland, there are no sustainable security solutions to a political problem.

I am appalled by how successive Israeli governments have moved from the policies of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, but I do not see how Ireland adopting the BDS strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions, as urged by some in Dublin City Council, does anything except play into the hands of the hawks.

Instead of urging sanctions we should insisting that the Government act on its commitment on page 144 of the Partnership Programme for Government:

‘…to recognise the State of Palestine as part of a lasting settlement of the conflict’

In December 2014 the Dáil agreed a motion to ‘officially recognise the State of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital…’

Another Dáil Motion tabled on 22 June 2016 and signed by most members of the opposition, called for the government to finally act on these commitments and do what eight other EU  Member States have done and recognise Palestine.

It is long past time that we did it.

Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010. His column appears here every Tuesday Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney

Pics: Haretz

35 thoughts on “We Back A Two-State Solution, So Time To Recognise Both

  1. Just Sayin

    Derek refers to “the Ramallah 6.01 News.”
    Do they have a minute of bongs before the news there too?

  2. bisted

    …the pretence of a two-state solution has finally been abandoned by both sides…the power of the BDS campaign should not be underestimated…

  3. The Ghost of Starina

    “The first, is that the Israeli authorities treat their friends and allies every bit as badly as they treat their foes. ”

    Derek, they let you in the country, for one, and for another, they didn’t shoot you. So even though your treatment upon leaving was incredibly stressful (and fair play to you for refusing the passwords), you were not treated as badly as their “foes”.

    “I do not see how Ireland adopting the BDS strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions, as urged by some in Dublin City Council, does anything except play into the hands of the hawks.”

    I honestly don’t see how this is relevant to your anecdote. But nevertheless, would you have said the same about boycotting apartheid South Africa?

    What are your thoughts on Jewdas, if you’re not so big on BDS? Yes, there are plenty of Israelis who are against the apartheid but they are fairly reviled in Israel (and around the world) for being “self-destructive Jews” (I ended up barred from the Dublin Israeli Embassy FB page for being one myself), much like anything else that doesn’t follow the government lines.

    1. david

      So do not get me wrong
      Israel is at war and an Irishman visits the PLO leadership which has connections to the IRA in the west bank.
      I wonder during the time of the troubles in the north Gerry Adams and other republicans could not even visit the USA and he harps on about security forces targetting him as a possible threat.
      And I am sure any person visiting terrorist leaders in the middle east ,would be arrested when they set foot back on European soil
      We see by the photos and the wording used” Palestinian labourers” like slaves who toiled in ancient Egypt to build the pyramids.but its for all residents entering Jerusalem from the west bank ,eccept for known security threats.
      And the apartheid label
      I am sure people do not know what apartheid is.Israel has all cultures in its parliament all races except those that are sworn enemies of Israel, so by the word apartheid its incorrect.
      We see when a country is at war the duty of the government is to defend its people.
      Look at the EU states bombing Syria and Europe is not under attack.
      Maybe if the Palestinian Muslims stopped acts of war against Israel and were part of a northern Ireland peace process there could be a solution instead of murder and a whole history from murder hijacking and butchering teams of athletes
      The problem with the likes of Mooney is he has not one clue about the middle east and the rights of various religions in the area,that is the cradle of all religions, that stemmed from Judaism

      1. The Ghost of Starina

        how can an entire race be a sworn enemy of Israel? And what race would that be, david?

        1. david

          Stop playing games you know very well
          Go back to when the Jewish state was formed and on that day when Israel was formed and the British left the whole Arab world descended on the state
          Of Israel as did in three wars
          Hamas and Fatah are sworn enemies of Israel
          The right wing in Israel Netanyahu Sharon are a result of continuous attacks by Muslim Palestinians and I say Muslim simply because both Christian and Jewish Palestinians worked lived and thrived in the area named Palestine after the ottoman empire was defeated
          For a Jew you are either ignorant of the fact or ignoring that fact
          800thousand Jews were effectively forced or lives became impossible throughout the middle east when Israel under the British mandate was formed and under the French mandate the Palestinian Muslims refused their state
          Those elderly Palestinians Hamas used in that little propaganda riot which so many died was organised to cause death and all for the cameras, achieving more hate and bitterness,
          These same old Palestinians were like the Jews forced out of Egypt Syria Jordan morocco etc
          They were used with words like their lands taken and they just want to go home
          And most in 1947 were threatened by Palestinian groups some were forced out due to the violence that followed Israel’s creation
          It is not simple but as long as Hamas are involved peace wild never happen because Hamas will never accept Israel
          If only a good Friday agreement could be implimented

          1. The Ghost of Starina

            You really swallow the party line hook line and sinker, eh. And with phobia of Arabs, too!

  4. garthicus

    Other than the almost full strip, that’s a fairly standard security check leaving Tel Aviv. Generally you’re questioned at least 3 times from the time you arrive at the airport to the time you depart along with an incredibly detailed search and explosive swabbing, I’ve had the lining of my suitcases removed too. I deleted FB, Twitter and Whatsapp from my phone the last time I was departing for no other reason than I wanted no delays.

  5. shitferbrains

    A quick review of how Israelis went from voting left and centre left to voting right and centre right would be useful.

  6. Frilly Keane

    Sorry
    Got as far as Mooney in his boxers…

    Please Broadsheet
    Could ya not have put a warning up there for those of us with softer stomachs

    I won’t be right for a fortnight after that image

  7. Pat Harding

    Why in god’s name do Irish politicians and activists feel the need to stick their noses into the Israeli / Palestinian problem? Frankly, it’s none of their business. They should focus their attention on doing what they were elected to do here. Neither the Israelis or the Palestinians give a tuppenny toss what a naive bunch of Irish politicos think? Israel / Palestine is not Northern Ireland, the rights and wrongs cannot be addressed by a busload of Dublin city councillors and activists who frankly don’t have the clout to change anything.

    I appreciate I may be wounding their social conscience and sense of self, but it’s the Middle East! Everyone has a grievance in that part of the world. The only people who can sort it out are the Americans, the Israelis and the rich Arab states (who are only too happy to allow wooly Europeans take up the slack!)

    Since time immemorial, its been a mess and it will continue to be so regardless.

    1. The Ghost of Starina

      “Everyone has a grievance in that part of the world.”

      sure that’s grand, so.

    2. scottser

      If the two sides were in some way equal you could turn a blind eye maybe, but the absolute denigration of a people deserves some comment. The least we can do is recognise palestine as a sovereign state as we do israel. if there is to be any peace it will be from first principles, the right of both nations to exist

      1. david

        And that is the solution ,two states living in peace. But how do they get there?
        Maybe the exact process they used in northern Ireland and that means terrorist organisations must decommission and like the good Friday agreement refrain from violence for a designated number of years
        Sadly sell that to hamas

  8. Truth in the News

    About two weeks ago over 30 Palestinians were killed by the so called Israeli Army, where was the
    indignation from America, France or England, did they bomb any Israeli Military Targets…..?
    Incidentally what stocks of Nuclear and Chemical weapons have the Israelis got hold of and indeed
    who in the Western World who facilitated all this.

    1. david

      Yes they were killed
      But trying to enter forcefully into Israel
      Your Sinn feinn mentality makes you a silly billy
      A country has the right to stop undesirables from entering by force
      Hamas again rallies the cannon fodder from the poo poo hole they have made from Gaza
      800000 Jews ethnically cleansed all around the middle east inm1947to 1948
      Maybe these Jews should be trying to force their way back into where they for centuries had their homes but were kicked out by the non apartheid Arab regimes

      1. The Ghost of Starina

        They were not a military force — only civilians, so rubbish on your “enter forcefully” — and they were trying to return to the homes that had been taken from them. I recommend reading “Pity the Nation” by Robert Fisk. Harrowing but compelling reading.

        “800000 Jews ethnically cleansed all around the middle east inm1947to 1948
        Maybe these Jews should be trying to force their way back into where they for centuries had their homes but were kicked out by the non apartheid Arab regimes”

        So you think one genocide justifies another?

        1. david

          The provisional IRA are the same as Hamas are a terrorist organisation and like all have used the population to further their cause
          These people were used by Hamas in an organised by Hamas operation
          Robert Fisk dose understand the middle east, but he is wrong about Israel and very anti Israel for the conflict is complex and very devisive
          I have read his writings but when it comes to Israel you forget Israel is at war with its Palestinian neighbours and sadly in wars very right wing parties take control for the main concern is the people you govern and their welfare, not the welfare of your enemy
          As a Jew you seem to use genocide loosely
          But you do not address the fact about the Jews who were displaced 1947 to 1948 and the fact Israel do not use them by sending them to the countries they too once lived in
          And if you asked those Muslim Palestinians would they become Israeli citizens and accept Israeli rule I doubt they would
          Maybe as well all the Jews from Europe that when returning home after the holocaust should be given back their homes?
          I doubt Poland Estonia Lithuania Germany France and other places they were hounded out would agree to push off where once they lived for generations who ever lives there now

          1. The Ghost of Starina

            There’s a great Eddie Izzard sketch in Dressed to Kill where he’s talking about the British Empire and the foundation of Israel and sets up the image of a Britstanding atop a dune in Palestine going “look at all this laaaand! And all completely empty!” And a Palestinian pops his head up like “eh…hi” “COMPLETELY UNPOPULATED, NOBODY HERE”

  9. Friscondo

    Israel is a failed, rogue, terrorist state that brutally occupies, and continues to rob Palestinian land. It’s an apartheid regime that treats non Jews as second class citizens. Just recently it indulged in a pointless, callous, massacre of innocent protesters. It’s had 70 years to get it’s act together, but failed miserably and is a blight on the region, and a constant source of instability for its neighbours. It will not end well for all concerned.

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