Announcing my candidacy for president of Palestine

Announcing my candidacy

I am formally announcing my candidacy to run for president of Palestine in the next election on the "quid pro quo" peace party. I know it could be tough, living here in Chicago, but I figure if I win, I won't have trouble getting a ticket, although it might be rough passing through Israeli security. Nevertheless, I think what Palestine and Israel need is a candidate who is unequivocal on a vision for peace. So here's my platform. 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's 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 dunam-for-dunam land exchange. If Ariel is 500 dunams with a lifeline from Israel, then Israel gives Palestine 500 dunams 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 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 US, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the UN. 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 peoples. All political parties, Palestinian and Israeli, should eliminate language 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 to strengthen its industry, and an airport to permit flights to and from the Arab world and Israel. I would urge the Arab world to renew its 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. Actually, 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 US to monitor the peace, and establish an agency to pursue criminal acts of violence. I know that not even the best peace can prevent some extremist Jews or Arabs from continuing to support violence. They should be treated like criminals. It seems so easy when you write it and read it. I know that the only thing preventing this from happening is fear, intransigence and a reluctance to believe in a better future than the one we have today. It's my vision, but I also think it is a vision shared by a majority of Palestinians. The writer is an American Palestinian columnist, stand-up comedian and radio talk show host in Chicago