Can there be a Permanent Solution to the Plight of Palestinians and Israelis?
The recent release of a number of Israeli and Palestinian hostages and the temporary week long truce, which ended on December 1st should have been an occasion for the global community to reflect on how we could try to strive for not just a cease-fire but for long-lasting peace and economic development in the region.
While on the one hand, Israel has achieved significant economic development despite being surrounded by Islamic countries, on the other hand, Gaza remains backward and dependent primarily on Israel for even its basic needs of water, electricity, fuel, and employment for quite a few of its residents.
The attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7 demonstrated to the world the brutality and the barbarism of the terrorists. The reprisals by Israel have resulted in a lot of destruction, death, and misery for the people of Gaza in the West Bank. There is a much greater sense of insecurity for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
This has also led to a very significant surge in anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes not only in the region but in the US, Europe, and other countries.
Is the world destined to continue down the spiral of more wars, hatred, death, and destruction? Or is there an alternative vision or path possible?
A lot has already been written and discussed about the conflict’s historical evolution and origins. The Israel-Palestine issue has persisted for decades and has resulted in considerable human suffering. Resolving the plight of the Palestinians and Israelis is of utmost importance for regional peace. Focusing on economic empowerment, employment opportunities, and education for the Palestinians could perhaps serve as a powerful tool to counter the allure of extremist ideologies and promote peace. The acceptance by the Islamic countries of the right of Israel to exist as a free country is also an essential requirement.
The dust of war eventually settles, but its scars are often long-lasting, especially in regions plagued by protracted conflicts like the Middle East. Yet, as daunting as the task of rebuilding might seem, the post-war era can serve as an inflection point, an opportunity to sow seeds of lasting peace and prosperity.
War robs individuals, particularly youth, of their aspirations, thrusting them into a vortex of despair and, often, extremist ideologies. So, the question is, how can we pivot from devastation to a renaissance in the post-war Middle East?
How can we aspire for a prosperous Palestinian and Israeli population living in peace and harmony, reaping the benefits of regional economic cooperation, and providing a model for conflict resolution worldwide?
Economic Integration: The Power of Unity
The prospect of the India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEEC) need not be seen only as an economic initiative but also as a gesture for peace in a conflict-prone region. By linking Bharat to Europe via the Middle East, we’re not merely talking about trade and investment; we’re fostering an environment where economies are interdependent, thus making conflict detrimental to all.
The India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEEC) can possibly bring significant investments and trade opportunities for Palestinians and others in the region. Developing Special Economic Zones (SEZ) within Palestine in collaboration with Israel and other countries involved in IMEEEC would focus on manufacturing, technology, and services, drawing investment from nations. This would be a win-win situation, as the corridor will bolster the economies of all participant countries.
Imagine the ripple effects of infrastructure projects intertwining Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel into this corridor. These aren’t just roads, ports, and rails but lifelines of hope, conduits of opportunity.
Investing in Youth and Women: The Beacon of Hope
Youth and women are the torchbearers of our future. However, radical voices can seductively intercept a future shadowed by unemployment. By aligning with nations like Bharat, known for its prowess in the IT sector, we can equip the youth and women with sought-after skills. The twofold vision is to reduce unemployment and nurture ambassadors of peace, who have far more to lose in times of conflict. Bharat has already been extending phenomenal support under the ITEC (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation) Program to the citizens of many of these countries for many decades now. Bharat, therefore, has the experience and the expertise in this regard.
Moreover, let’s incentivize peace. If companies from the IMEEEC region employ Palestinian youths, they should benefit from tax breaks and other incentives.
- Skill Development: Collaborate with international agencies to establish vocational training centers. Partner with countries like India, which has vast experience in IT and service sectors, to train youth in these domains.
- Job Fairs and Employment Drives: Regularly organize job fairs featuring companies from Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries to promote employment among Palestinian youths.
- Incentives for Employers: Provide tax breaks and financial incentives to companies from the IMEEEC region that employ a significant percentage of Palestinians.
Education: The Pillar of Progress
Schools must become the sanctuaries of hope and enlightenment in our quest for lasting peace. Through partnerships with global universities, we can elevate academic standards and instill values of coexistence and unity. When children are taught stories of camaraderie, not conflict, they’ll pen a different, peaceful chapter for the region.
- Educational Exchange Programs: Collaborate with universities in Israel, India, Europe, and the Middle East to offer scholarships for Palestinian students.
- Upgraded Curriculum: Ensure that the curriculum in Palestinian schools is in line with international standards. Focus on teaching critical thinking, STEM, peace education, and coexistence.
- Teacher Training Programs: Collaborate with international educational organizations to train teachers, ensuring high academic standards.
Promoting Peace, Countering Terrorism, and Anti-Semitism:
Bharat has always condemned terrorism in the strongest terms and has shown zero tolerance for terrorism in any shape or form. Promoting peace, countering terrorism, and addressing anti-Semitism requires a multi-pronged approach, encompassing education, dialogue, policy reform, and community engagement.
- Media and Education: Promote peace, unity, and coexistence narratives in Palestinian media and educational content. Counter any narratives of hatred and division. Incorporate lessons on the Holocaust, the history of Jews, and the contributions of diverse groups to human civilization to foster understanding and dispel myths.
- Youth Engagement: Establish peace clubs in schools and universities that organize events promoting peace and understanding. Promote exchange programs where individuals can immerse themselves in different cultures and religions to foster understanding.
- Interfaith Dialogues: Encourage interfaith dialogues within Palestine and between Palestinians and Israelis to foster understanding and unity. Set up interfaith discussions where religious leaders can address common misconceptions about their beliefs and highlight similarities.
- Hate Crime Legislation: Strengthen laws that penalize hate crimes, ensuring they are adequately enforced.
- Counter-radicalization Programs: Develop programs explicitly targeting individuals at risk of radicalization, offering them support, education, and alternative perspectives.
The Abraham Accords 2.0: A New Dawn in Middle Eastern Diplomacy
The Middle East, often perceived as a complex web of animosities and alliances, witnessed a historical turn with the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020. These agreements, brokered with the significant involvement of the United States, marked a paradigm shift in the diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab nations.
Named after the patriarch Abraham, a revered figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Abraham Accords are a series of normalization agreements between Israel and various Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.
Before 2020, only two Arab nations—Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994)—had established full diplomatic relations with Israel. The Abraham Accords, therefore, represent a significant expansion of Israel’s formal recognition within the Arab world.
The Accords entail the establishment of full diplomatic ties, including the opening of embassies, direct flights, trade deals, and broader cooperation in sectors such as technology, energy, and medicine.
The stymied Israel-Saudi Arabia Peace Accord needs to be restarted. This isn’t just about peace agreements; it’s a cultural and economic confluence. We’re not just linking economies; we’re linking destinies. Mutual investments and cultural exchanges between nations have historically proven to be robust peacekeepers.
India/Bharat: A Potential Peace Broker in the Middle East
India’s unique positioning in global politics and its historical ties and soft power make it a potential mediator in the volatile Middle East, particularly between Arabs and Israelis. Bharat has managed to maintain cordial relations with both Arab nations and Israel. Historically, Bharat has supported the Palestinian cause, while in recent decades, it has fostered robust ties with Israel, particularly in the defense, agriculture, and technology sectors. This dual affinity ensures that India is seen as a neutral player, which is essential for effective mediation.
The significant Indian diaspora in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf countries, strengthens Bharat’s cultural and economic ties with the region. This diaspora contributes to their resident countries’ economies and acts as a bridge between their homeland and the Middle East. Their presence can be leveraged as they symbolize the mutual respect and shared values between Bharat and the Middle East.
Every brick we lay in the post-war Middle East can be a stepping stone towards an enduring peace or another block in an endless maze of conflicts. By integrating our economies, investing in the youth and women, and reimagining education, we don’t just rebuild post-war Palestine and ensure the future security of Israel; we revive hope, unity, and a promise of a brighter, peaceful tomorrow.
A prosperous and peaceful Palestinian society living in peace with Israel can be realized through a combination of regional cooperation, economic initiatives, and education. A focus on these areas will provide Palestinian youth with hope and purpose, making the ideologies of hate and extremism less attractive. Bharat has emerged as an essential global player, as was apparent during the G20 Summit and the Voice of Global South Summit recently in Bharat. Due to the high stakes for all countries and its greater acceptance as an essential global entity, Bharat can endeavor to line up the support of the USA, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and other like-minded countries in these efforts. With the cooperation of regional powers and the international community, a brighter future for Palestine, Israel, and the entire region is within reach.
Given its deep-rooted connections, neutrality, and the respect it commands in the Middle East, Bharat can play a pivotal role in fostering peace in the region. While the challenges in the Middle East are complex, Bharat’s involvement can provide a fresh perspective and a neutral ground for dialogue. As the world’s largest democracy, Bharat can be a beacon of hope for a peaceful Middle East.