CONTENTIONS contributor Daniel Halper argues in the Jerusalem Post that Palestinian democracy is a necessary ingredient in any Middle East peace formulation:
Israel remains the lone liberal democracy in the Middle East (though Iraq is making progress). Its minorities, including its 1,100,000 Arab citizens, enjoy the same protection under the law as the Jewish majority; its irrepressibly noisy citizens are free to say whatever they wish in politics and in the press; the government is not just elected, but political candidates are selected through elaborate primary systems – not through violence, foreign influence or coercion. Because Israelis have accepted liberal democratic principles both in the way they govern and in their cultural mores, they respect the lives of fellow citizens in a way that increases their readiness for peace.
THE NEXT STEP, then, is for the Palestinian people to accept these same general principles. From there, a framework for peace could emerge. At present, Palestinian society is anything but democratic. Though elected, officials rule arbitrarily, without laws and by enforcing order through the power of the gun. They rise to power not through primaries, but through violence. Until this changes, peace will be difficult if not impossible.
Read the whole thing to find out Halper’s proposed starting point.