FORMER PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI POLITICIANS SAY A TWO-STATE SOLUTION IS NOT POSSIBLE, REFLECTING THE ATTITUDES OF A GROWING NUMBER OF THEIR PEOPLE -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Two former, prominent politicians, one an Israeli and the other a Palestinian, say a two-state solution to the troubles between their people is no longer possible - an attitude a growing number of the region's citizens are expressing. Bob Simon's report on the situation will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Jan. 25 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The reason for their cynicism is thousands of intractable Israeli settlers who occupy the West Bank of the Jordan River - lands Israel took in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War that Palestinians want back to form the basis of their independent state.
It will never happen, says former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meron Benveniste. "Prospects [for two states] are nil. The geopolitical condition that's been created in '67 is irreversible. Cannot be changed. You cannot unscramble that egg," says Benviniste. "[Settlers] will remain and flourish."
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, former candidate for Palestinian president, agrees. "While my heart still wants to believe that the two-state solution is possible, my brain keeps telling me the opposite because of what I see in terms of the building of settlements," he tells Simon. "So, these settlers are destroying the potential peace for both people that would have been created if we had a two-state solution," he says.
If there was any hope at all, it was dashed last month when Israel invaded Gaza to end Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli cities, says Barghouti. Israel's offensive in Gaza killed over 1,000 Gazans, many of them civilians. "My heart is deeply broken, and I am very worried that what Israel has done has furthered us...from the possibility of two state solution," Barghouti tells Simon.
But Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni believes a two-state solution can still be achieved and that Israel will be able to get the settlers to leave the West Bank. "So this is the responsibility of the government and police to stop [settlers]. As simple as that. Israel is a state of law and order," she says.
But even when the government of Israel tries to stop new, illegal settling in the West Bank by demolishing the dwellings, they are met with defiance and sometimes violence. They must deal with deeply religious settlers who believe they are on a mission from God to preserve the Jewish State, like Daniella Weiss, whose house was demolished. "And we will rebuild it. The experience shows that the world belongs to those who are stubborn, and we are very stubborn," she tells Simon.