Boutros Ghali – “Israel Has a Habit of Closing its Eyes to Hard Facts”

From Der Spiegel online. 5 Jan 2009
Boutros Boutros Ghali interview

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What has led you to this conclusion?

Boutros-Ghali: Israel has a habit of closing its eyes to hard facts. In geographical terms, the Gaza Strip represents almost exactly 2 percent of the total area of Palestine. There is no getting around the fact that this area would have to be greatly expanded as part of the scope of a genuine peace agreement. An additional fact on the ground, which the Israelis prefer to forget about, is the 1.3 million Arab Palestinians who remained in their villages and cities when the state of Israel was founded in 1948 and who make up about one-fifth of Israel’s current population. By around 2060, the Palestinians will account for roughly half — if not more — of the inhabitants of Israel and the areas occupied by Israel.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: According to that theory, this demographic development will put an end to the dream of having a state with a majority Jewish population, something which greatly concerns the Israelis. But does it have any bearing on the current conflict?

Boutros-Ghali: The growing imbalance between Jews and Arabs in the area controlled by Israel is of decisive importance for the near future of the Jewish state. Already today, you can see that the Zionist idea of having a purely Jewish state is not going to work out and that this (demographic) development renders the idea no longer tenable. The fuse is already lit. Emigration from Israel is already on the rise — and not just in the wake of crisis situations. More and more parents are losing faith in the future and want to spare their children from having to live a life marked by constant fear and a lack of peace. But Israel’s current leadership appears to be solely motivated by a concern for election tactics. Given the scale of the damage that has already been done, that is irresponsible.

 

But wait there is more

Boutros-Ghali: Working together, the Arabs put a good peace plan on the table that envisioned recognizing Israeli sovereignty within the pre-1967 borders in return for an independent Palestinian state within these borders. Israel made the mistake of ignoring this offer.

One of the questions that must arise, is Zionism possible without a purely Jewish state? Can Zionism exist where all citizens are equal before the law regardless of religion? (Israel currently avoids these issues by not having a formal constitution.)

Boutros Boutros Ghali because of his association with the ruling elites of Egypt could be said to be putting forth an unofficial line. Egypt is warning Israel of the rise of the radical forces in the Arab world and that just as Israel monitors Egypt, Egypt too monitors Israel and it is in Egypt’s interests to have peaceful neighbours.

Boutros Boutros Ghali comes from a prominent Egyptian political family. He was formerly the Secretary General of the United Nations.

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