President Barack Obama is correct in saying Israel should not occupy the Palestinian territories permanently.
On Sept. 20, Obama addressed the United Nations for the last time as president of the United States, reports The Times of Israel. He spoke about the progression of world peace during his eight years as president, including the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
“Surely Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel,” he said to U.N. representatives, reports the Independent. "But Israel must recognize that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.”
Obama is right. Both sides of the conflict will benefit if each recognizes the other’s legitimacy and respects their space and independence as separate nations.
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In his speech, Obama called for a continuation of “moving forward” in his absence. He said the world needs to become “less violent” and “more prosperous.” With the current state of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this goal cannot be achieved.
Rather, as Obama noted, Israel needs to recognize that it cannot occupy the Palestinian territories forever.
Israel has occupied Palestinian territories for five decades. Amnesty International states that this occupation is the cause of many human rights abuses in that region. Israeli forces remove Palestinian civilians from their homes, torture their detainees and partake in unfair trials.
President Obama is calling for a “two-state solution” to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meaning that he would like to see both nations settle the conflict as independent countries, each claiming some of the land in dispute.
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On Sept. 15, however, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed fears that a “one-state solution” may take shape before peaceful negotiations can come to fruition in the Middle East.
In a “one-state” outcome, the legitimate creation of a Palestinian state outside of Israel would not occur, notes The Times of Israel. Rather, one nation would control all of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Ban agrees with Obama’s idea that a two-state solution is a more definite path to peace.
“Replacing a two-state solution with a one-state construct would spell doom: denying Palestinians their freedom and rightful future, and pushing Israel further from its vision of a Jewish democracy towards greater global isolation,” Ban told the U.N.
The only way to achieve the most peaceful and most stable outcome of a two-state solution is communication between the two sides. For that communication to occur, the Palestinians needs to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and Israel must cease occupation of Palestinian territories.