Yes, I am running for President of Palestine in the next election, if there is one. No, I don't expect to win. But then, many long shot candidates who don't expect to win, actually find themselves winning.
Still, my goal isn't to win office but to help re-ignite the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis not by pushing the leaders to do their jobs and stop putzing around but by reaching out to the grassroots Palestinian and Israeli publics.
I figure the leaders are hemming and hawing and violating past agreements because they believe the public doesn't care any more and that things have gotten so bad that conflict seems like a better alternative. Conflict is never a better alternative.
So I threw my political hat in the proverbial election campaign ring, and I am tossing my tongue in my stand up comedian cheek, too, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, the publics of both people can return to a place of sanity and end the blame game.
Here's my campaign platform and I think it's doable because Israelis and Palestinians are already responding positively:
- I support two-states, one Israel and one Palestine. As far as I am concerned, I can recognize Israel’s “Jewish” character and Israelis should recognize Palestine’s “non-Jewish” character.
- I oppose violence of any kind from and by anyone. I reject Hamas’ participation in any Palestinian government without first agreeing to surrender all arms and to accept two-states as a “final” peace agreement. But I also reject allowing Israeli settlers to carry any weapons and believe Israelis must impose the same restrictions on them.
- I can support some settlements remaining – given the reality of 42 years of time passing -- in a dunum-for-dunum land exchange. If Ariel is 500 dunums with a lifeline from Israel, then Israel gives Palestine 500 dunums in exchange.
- Jerusalem should be a shared city and Palestinians should have an official presence in East Jerusalem. The Old City should be shared by both permitting open access to the city to all with a joint Palestinian-Israeli police presence.
- Palestinian refugees would give up their demand to return to pre-1948 homes and lands lost during the conflict with Israel. Instead, some could apply for family reunification through Israel and the remainder would be compensated through a fund created and maintained by the United States, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Nations.
- I also think Israelis should find it in their hearts to show compassion and offer their apologies to Palestinians for the conflict.
- I support creation of a similar fund to compensate those Jews from Arab lands who lost their homes and lands, too, when they fled.
- I think the Wall should be torn down, or relocated to the new borders. I have no problem separating the two nations for a short duration to help rebuild confidence between our two people.
- All political parties, Palestinian and Israelis, should eliminate languages denying each other’s existence, and all maps should be reprinted so that Israeli maps finally show Palestine and Palestinian maps finally show Israel.
- A subway system should be built linking the West Bank portion of the Palestine state to the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestine State. Palestine should be permitted to build a seaport access to strengthen its’ industry, and an airport to permit flights and too and from the Arab and Israeli world.
- I would urge the Arab World to renew their offer to normalize relations with Israel if Israel agrees to support the creation of a Palestinian State.
- And I would ask both countries to establish embassies in each other’s country to address other problems.
- While non-Jewish Palestinians would continue to live in Israel as citizens, Jews who wish to live in settlements surrendered by Israel could become Palestinian citizens and they should be recognized and treated equally.
- If Jews want to live in Hebron, they should be allowed to live in Hebron and should be protected, just as non-Jews. In fact, for every Jewish individual seeking to live in Palestine, a Palestinian should be permitted to live in Israel. In fact, major Palestinian populations in Israel could be annexed into Palestine (like settlements).
- Another concept is to have non-Jews living in Israel continue to live there but only vote in Palestinian elections, while Jews living in Palestine would only vote in Israeli elections. A special citizenship protection committee could be created to explore how to protect the rights of minorities in each state.
- Israel and Palestine should create joint-governing and security agencies working with the United States to monitor the peace, and establish an agency to pursue criminal acts of violence.
You tell me who has a better campaign platform that makes more sense among Israel's and Palestine's leaders?
Everyone knows what the answer is, we just need to find people with courage to start saying it. But Palestinians and Israelis don't have to wait until their leaders suddenly see the light and stop pandering to the extremists.
Enough is enough! Yalla Peace!
My campaign web site is www.YallaPeace.com. Join in this movement, not to make me president, but to give our children a better future than the nightmare of a past and present we now have.
Follow Ray Hanania on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rayhanania