New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said that the rise of Islamists in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria has given Israel and the Palestinians "a greater incentive than ever to create an alternative model in the West Bank — a Singapore — to show that they, together, can give birth to a Palestinian state where Arab Muslims and Christians, men and women, can thrive in a secular, but religiously respectful, free-market, democratic context, next to a Jewish state."
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In an editorial addressing the stalled Mideast peace process, Friedman wrote that the Arab Spring has made an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement "more urgent than ever."
According to the editorial, published Tuesday, "it is now clear that Arab autocracies are being replaced with Islamist-populist parties. And, in Egypt, in particular, it is already clear that a key issue in the election will be the peace treaty with Israel. In this context, if Palestinian-Israeli violence erupts in the West Bank, there will be no firewall — the role played by former President Hosni Mubarak — to stop the flames from spreading directly to the Egyptian street."
'Alternative model.' Singapore (Photo: Ilana Fischer)
In the article, Friedman said, "One reason the Arab world has stagnated while Asia has thrived is that the Arabs had no good local models to follow — the way Taiwan followed Japan or Hong Kong. Fostering such a model — that would stand in daily contrast to struggling Islamist models in Gaza and elsewhere — would be a huge, long-term asset for Israel and help to shape the world around it."
Addressing Marwan Barghouti's recent call for a popular uprising against Israel, Friedman, who said the jailed Fatah leader recommended that such a revolt be non-violent, wrote "I can certainly see the efficacy of nonviolent resistance by Palestinians to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank — on one condition: They accompany any boycotts, sit-ins or hunger strikes with a detailed map of the final two-state settlement they are seeking. Just calling for 'an end to occupation' won’t cut it."
According to the Jewish columnist, "Palestinians need to accompany every boycott, hunger strike or rock they throw at Israel with a map delineating how, for peace, they would accept getting back 95% of the West Bank and all Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and would swap the other 5% for land inside pre-1967 Israel. Such an arrangement would allow some 75 % of the Jewish settlers to remain in the West Bank, while still giving Palestinians 100% of the land back."
Friedman added: "By Palestinians engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience in the West Bank with one hand and carrying a map of a reasonable two-state settlement in the other, they will be adopting the only strategy that will end the Israeli occupation: Making Israelis feel morally insecure but strategically secure. The Iron Law of the peace process is that whoever makes the Israeli silent majority feel morally insecure about occupation but strategically secure in Israel wins."
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