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Thursday, September 10, 2009

What the Israel-Palestinian conflict is really about (12)

What Is Peace?

By YOSSI ALPHER, Op Ed, New York Times, September 10, 2009 excerpt. Yossi Alpher, former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, co-edits

Israelis ... perceive ... a deep-seated Arab and Muslim rejection of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.

That was not an obstacle to a “cold peace” with Israel’s neighbors, with whom the borders were clear. But when the Palestinians’ quarrel with Israel touches on fundamental issues of ownership, whether in the claims of 1948 refugees or in the competing claims to the Temple Mount, the question of legitimacy comes to the fore.

This is how even moderate Israelis view the public rejection by the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s peace offer in 2008 — a set of proposals that Israelis deemed extraordinarily generous.