SOURCE: Zaman (6-19-11)
Benny Morris, professor of history in the Middle East studies department of Ben-Gurion University, believes that a two-state solution, one Jewish state in the land which Israelis turned into their state in 1948, and one Palestinian state in the West Bank, is the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He believes two states can coexist side by side in peace. However, Palestinian authorities are cold to such a solution.
Morris does not believe that Turkey can play a leading role in peace building between Israelis and Palestinians. He said Turkey has established itself as publicly siding with the Palestinians and that the Israelis will not trust Turkey to be an honest broker. “Therefore, any Turkish efforts to become some sort of mediator are bound to fail,” he stated.
Below is the full interview with Morris.
Professor Morris, you are considered to be a leading academic and historian on the Arab-Israeli conflict. What is the root of the conflict, in your opinion?
There is a political root and a cultural, religious root. Politically there are two peoples -- the Palestinians, who became a people gradually after the 1920s, and the Jewish people, which is an old people -- who regard the land of Israel, Palestine, as theirs. There is a conflict over the territory, the land of Israel itself, not areas within it but the whole land of Israel. It is a territorial issue, a political issue in which both national movements claim that the piece of land -- which is very small, 8,000 square miles -- as their territory. This is a basic clash between two national movements which is unique because mostly national movements clash over border areas between the two states, [such as] Germany and France over Alsace-Lorraine, but here these two movements are clashing over a whole piece of territory. It also has a religious cultural aspect, in that the Palestinians, essentially a Muslim people, regard the territory as a wholly sacred Islamic land, and the Jews regard the territory as theirs, and the Palestinian Arabs regard the Jewish settlers as an infidel and culturally alien presence, which is pollution in their terms. So there is a religious aspect to this conflict which makes it more difficult to resolve than were it simply a political issue....