Furthermore, a partition of the region will be no simple matter, given the dispersion of Israelis within Occupied Palestinian Territory. Although Israel withdrew from its settlements in Gaza several years ago, it has long encouraged settlement in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem. We must remember that Palestinians reside in non-contiguous areas, namely, the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. As a result, Israelis and Palestinians are inter-dispersed, creating an obstacle to partition and separation.
Resolution of the Middle East conflict necessarily requires that international and regional powers complete the process that began with the post-WWII establishment of Israel. That is, a political framework must be created either for Israelis and Palestinians to live together, or to separate them. The lack of an international forum that could oversee this process has prevented the creation of a Palestinian state. Clearly, both Israelis and Palestinians are unable to resolve the conflict in the absence of international participation.
The international Quartet has an obligation to assist the Palestinians to realize their right to self-determination in a responsible fashion, by creating such a forum. It is to be hoped that President Obama will encourage new international standards on self-determination that will assist Israelis and Palestinians to recognize each other in an atmosphere characterized by what Ronald Dworkin describes as equal concern and respect.
Dr William K. Barth is a lawyer with a doctorate in comparative politics from the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, who researches the politics of minority rights. His new book, “On Cultural Rights: The Equality of Nations and the Minority Legal Tradition” is published by Martinus Nijhoff.
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