Israeli-born Dr. Joseph “Yossi” Beilin, 65, is former Knesset member, deputy foreign minister and minister of justice under Labour Party governments. Yossi is also a war veteran. He fought in 1967 and 1973 Israeli wars against its Arab neighbours. The trauma of Israel’s ongoing wars shook his faith in Judaism and he left his religious lifestyle.
Yossi, the architect of the Oslo Accord, is a strong supporter of the so-called “Two-State solution“. He believes that in a few years, the ruling Jews will become a minority in Israel due to higher Palestinian birth rate. He also believes that the on-going Israel-Palestinian confrontation makes Hamas and other Islamist resistance group more popular.
Yossi favors a sort of independent Palestinian state over 60% of the West Bank with the Jerusalem hill-top enclave known as Al-Quds, as capital of the new Palestinian state, while the rest of East Jerusalem remain under Israeli control.
Yossi is against Israeli or American war on Iran. He refuse to agree with Netanyahu rhetoric of a nuclear Iran being an “existential threat” to Israel. However, he did say last year that “if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, its standing in the Middle East will be vastly strengthened. It will fill part of the void left by the Americans’ departure from Iraq and Afghanistan. It will become a centre of power, and some Arab countries will wish to identify with it because of its power, and because it stood up to the West and succeeded“, reported by Israeli daily Haaretz, August 16, 2012.
Last month, Yossi was in Toronto on a lecture tour. He was interviewed by Haroon Siddiqui, daily Toronto Star’s editorial page editor emeritus. I have known Haroon personally for many years. The Indian-born Haroon is the first Muslim journalist in Canada. A practicing Muslim, who wrongfully believes that Muslims should not mix politics with religion. He ignores the fact that some of the Biblical prophets (as), Joseph, David and Solomon, were both politicians and rulers. So was the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Haroon doesn’t hide his distaste for the Islamic regime in Tehran and Lebanese Islamic Resistance Hizbullah. Is Haroon a sectarian Sunni Muslim – I don’t know.
Haroon Siddiqui posted his interview with Yossi at the Toronto Star, on June 30, 2013. I have copied some of Beilin’s statements below. Full interview is available here.
“Netanyahu and Abbas are co-operating, every day. Israel is exporting $4 billion of goods to the West Bank and importing $500 million. That’s second only to our trade with the U.S. Nearly 25,000 Palestinian workers enter Israel every day.”
“Co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has never been this good, economically and on security matters. So we are well beyond trying to get the two leaders together.”
“Netanyahu wants peace but is not prepared to pay the price. But I think he’d be prepared to pay half the price for a partial agreement. As for Abbas, he cannot deliver Gaza and the acquiescence of Hamas. Still, I’d sign an interim agreement knowing that it’d be implemented only in the West Bank.”
“The Palestinians, who have 40 per cent of the West Bank and would want 100 per cent, can end up with 60 per cent.”
“Abbas is telling me he’d agree if he sees a vision (for an eventual final agreement), guaranteed by a third party or the Quartet (the UN, U.S., E.U. and Russia).”
“I am not his psychiatrist,” says Beilin. “But Netanyahu does understand that there’s a demographic problem. In three or four years, there’ll be a Jewish minority lording over a Palestinian majority. That’s why he agreed to a two-state solution, with conditions.”
“Netanyahu wants to control the Jordan valley for 40 years. He is not ready to divide Jerusalem. He is not even ready for a symbolic solution for the return of Palestinian refugees (displaced with the 1948 creation of Israel).”
“The division of Jerusalem is difficult for him to swallow – so we can say Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel and Al Quds will be the capital of Palestine.”
“It’s a problem for Israel if Iran gets nuclear weapons. That would be very bad news for Israel. But a nuclear Iran is not an existential threat to Israel. Here, Netanyahu is wrong.”
“(President-elect) Hasan Rouhani’s election is good news. It’s time to engage Iran — something that was impossible under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Let’s give Rowhani a chance.”
“Islamophobia eventually leads to Judeophobia. You couldn’t distinguish between the two. It’s a crazy phenomenon. If you hate Muslims, you’d be conducive to hating Jews.”
Yossi Beilin: How Bibi can defeat Hamas | Rehmat's World