Monday, October 29, 2007

Q and A with Alan Johnston

I think Alan Johnston's answers say a lot about the Palestinian/Israeli 'conflict', especially in Gaza. Being a Western journalist who has lived in Gaza for years, he is in a unique position to see the bigger picture and understand both sides of the story.

His answer below sums up the situation very well:

Q: How has your experience shaped your views on the Palestinian problem? Do you think there is a solution?

For a century or more, this has been a dispute over the control of the narrow strip of land that stretches from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. If the Israelis were to withdraw from every inch of occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians would be left with about 22% percent of that land. The Israelis would have 78% percent.

Every time you see an American president sit down with the two sides to talk peace, the question is largely about how much of that 22% the Palestinians should be allowed to have - and under what conditions.

I tend to feel that the Israelis will never really give enough - or be forced by their American friends to give enough. And for at least some angry young Palestinians, 22% could never be enough. They would want to fight on for much more.

I think that they would be hard to rein in, and in the poverty, despair and oppression of the occupation, the ranks of the radicals are only likely to grow.

Set against that, most people on both sides do want an end to the conflict - a settlement that might allow their children to live in peace and prosper. So, perhaps there is hope - "God willing", as they say in Palestine.

Click here for rest of Q and A on BBC

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