Gershon Baskin

Speaking peace out loud and all over


Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

For the 38 years that I have lived in Israel I have always defined myself as a loyal citizen of the state. There is no other place in the world in which I want to live. During all of that time I have fought against the occupation of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza and worked for peace and cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors – first and foremost the Palestinians. I have always recognized that all of the land between the River and the Sea is the Land of Israel, but have always recognized too that all of that land is also the land of Palestine.

I have always demanded that Palestinians recognize my rights as a Jew to self-determination and a territorial expression of my identity on the land of Israel. I have also demanded that we recognize the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination and for a territorial expression of their identity on the land of Palestine.

I came to the same conclusion in 1975 that the international community adopted in 1937 and again in 1947: that the only way that both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people can achieve self-determination and a territorial expression of their identity is through partitioning the land into two states. I have always believed that compromise is existentially essential for both peoples to continue to live on the land that they believe belongs to them. I have also believed that if one or both of the sides claim exclusivity, that the land belongs only to them, we would end up continuing to kill each other rather than choosing life and prosperity for our two peoples.

Since the birth of the State of Israel and the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, we (both) have been on the path of choosing death, not life.

I have spoken my views on this subject locally and internationally. I have spoken in the European Parliament, in the United Nations, to presidents, kings, queens, princes and elected officials. I have spoken to Israeli prime ministers, ministers, chiefs of staff and to people of all walks of life all over the country.

I have spoken with Palestinian presidents, ministers and security officials, and Palestinians of all walks of life all over Palestine, including in Gaza. I have never hidden my opinions or tried to avoid speaking to all people all over who can and must take action to assist Israelis and Palestinians to reach an end to this conflict, which means ending the occupation, and securing peace between the people of Israel and the people of Palestine. This is the most loyal thing that anyone who loves their country can do.

Continuing the occupation is the primary existential threat to the State of Israel. There is no simpler way of putting it. The failures of Oslo are not an excuse for continuing to occupy land which many may believe is part of our birthright as Jews but cannot be a justification for negating the reality that millions of Palestinians are living under Israel’s control being denied their basic human and political rights, rights that almost every Israeli would be willing to fight, kill and die for. It will always take two sides to make an agreement, and the genuine difficulties regarding the Palestinian leadership and divided political house do not excuse Israel and its leaders from doing everything possible to advance solutions to this conflict.

Instead, the government of Israel and its leaders are doing everything possible to prevent the possibility of any partnership on the Palestinian side. Speeches about wanting peace, even if given in the United Nations by the prime minister, are not a replacement for policies that can change the reality on the ground.

Settlement building must stop – even in areas that Israel assumes will be part of the State of Israel after an agreement with the Palestinians. Israel’s policies and practices of control over the Palestinians must be rolled back and instead of speeches about wanting peace, engagement with Palestinian leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must take place. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows very well how to do that and as soon as he really wants to engage, he will find the paths to engage.

The key to real engagement and moving forward is an Israeli declaration that the two-state solution Netanyahu says he supports will be based on the borders that existed prior to June 5, 1967. The exact delineation of borders will be determined in negotiations.

Jerusalem will be the capital of both countries – two capitals in one open city. Holy places in Jerusalem and throughout Israel and Palestine will be under God’s sovereignty and not national sovereignty and will be open to all who view those places as holy to them.

The Palestinian refugee problem will be negotiated between the parties and declarations regarding the outcome of those negotiations before they even begin are counterproductive to dealing honestly and humanely with the issue. Both sides must work to encourage cooperation and interaction between their societies and economies even from now, even before agreements are reached, because such positive engagement will not only build constituencies for peace, it will build peace itself.

Most Israelis and most Palestinians no longer believe that peace is possible. Perhaps a majority on both sides thinks that the two-state solution is no longer relevant or possible. But what choices are there? None really. This is the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its resolution is an imperative for the survival of both peoples. We both have no real other choices. The push won’t come from the people – they are too convinced that there is no partner. It can only come from the leadership and the sooner the better because real human lives are at stake.

Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier

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Beiträge von Gershon Baskin

Speaking peace out loud and all over

Secret back channels

Left, Right, Zionist, anti-Zionist

Clear and measurable steps


Palestine-Jordan confederation and peace

The waiting game

The apology, democracy and peace

Sisi, the peace broker


The republic of Israel-Palestine?

My enemy's leader

De-risking peace - Part 5

De-risking peace - Part 4

De-risking peace - Part 3

De-risking peace - Part 2

De-risking peace - Part 1

The Left is right

The French connection

The United Nations and Israel’s legitimacy

A moment of opportunity

The darkness of our times

Addressing the core

The worst negotiations, the best negotiations

Palestinian turmoil and Israeli interests

This one is for you - the Palestinians

Palestinian suffering makes no sense for Israel

Creating a compelling vision for peace

It is also in our hands

Sooner or later

There is no partner

There is no partner


Yes, it is difficult to make peace

What does he really want?

To those who oppose Israeli-Palestinian peace

Israel – my sad home

Have I got news for you

It is still not too late for peace

Netanyahu, tell us what you really think!

The partnership challenge

The binational reality that we are experiencing

Abbas is still the leader who can make peace

A new intifada?

After Abbas

The distance between here and peace and security

Doing the wrong thing at that wrong time

The one and only solution!

Yeshayahu Leibowitz was right!

The disengagement – 10 years on: What we choose to forget

Needed - a new approach to Gaza

A bad agreement is better than no agreement

Obviously no peace now, so what then?

Ramadan Kareem!

Israel’s strategic choices regarding Gaza

Anti-normalization hypocrites

FIFA, soccer and the Palestinians

Both sides now

It’s time for Palestine

The citizens’ challenge – from despair to hope

We have the chance to do the right thing in Yarmouks

The world is not against us

This is what you voted for, and this is what you will get

The no decision elections

A cautious peace, but peace nevertheless

For the sake of Israel, Netanyahu must be sent home

Going ballistic even prior to an agreement

To the new IDF chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot

The Peace Bridge

The choices we must make

Israeli elections – It’s not about the economy

Threats and security


Returning to negotiations

Our most important elections

The missed opportunities

We want peace, but they don't

Our future is in our hands

Defining who we are

Unlike religious wars, political wars have solutions

Today and tomorrow

If we had a real leader

Jerusalem of peace, Jerusalem of war

No tango going on at all

The Gaza challenge

Is Hamas prepared to end this war with a long-term ceasefire?

The end of the ceasefire, the renewal of war and the end game

The aftermath

Some thoughts this morning

Regional forum for security and stability – Gaza first

After a long phone conversation with a Hamas leader in Gaza

Don’t destroy Gaza, build it!

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 3 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 2 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Annexing the West Bank – a catastrophic plan for the Jewish people

Mutual and reciprocal recognition

Our Palestinians, their Jews

A very personal statement on peace


Contextual reciprocity

Negotiating atmospherics

My Conversation With Hamas

Ramadan Kareem

Wahrheit, Lügen und Rechtmäßigkeit

Kauft palästinensisch!

Rat für den Präsidenten

Keine Fortsetzung des Unilateralismus!

Diesen Weg müssen wir einschlagen!

Die Kluft im Umgang mit den israelischen Arabern schließen


Eine Ein-Staat-Realität ist nicht durchführbar

Strategische Fehler und Herausforderungen

Mord an der Chance für Ruhe

Das Ende des Raketenbeschusses aus Gaza

Die Aufgabe eines Staatsmannes

Es gibt einen Ausweg

Atomwaffen raus aus dem Arsenal

Was Abbas Israel sagen sollte

Obama, gestatte es uns nicht!

Ist mein zionistischer Traum gestorben?