By Miller Friedman
Palestinian political analyst Bassem Eid stressed that foreign influence in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians must be greatly reduced for a solution to develop in a speech given last night at this university.
Eid, who has been an outspoken advocate for human rights in the Middle East since the 1990s, was adamant that unless the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority are willing to meet directly, there is nothing that any outside influence can do to improve the relationship between the two.
“If the international community continues acting the way they are acting, there will not be a solution soon to conflict,” Eid said.
Junior marketing major and Terps For Israel President Avi Schneider said Terps For Israel, who coordinated the event, contacted Eid on Facebook to come speak at the university because the organization thought it was important to get a Palestinian viewpoint on the complex relations between Israelis and Palestinians.
“He is a great speaker and has a unique perspective that we don’t get to hear very often. I thought that he gave really interesting ideas and opinions that you don’t really hear a lot from people like him,” Schneider said.
Junior kinesiology major Aaron Kraiman agreed that it was interesting to hear from a Palestinian.
“What brought me out is I wanted to hear a Palestinian perspective from an actual Palestinian, not just an activist,” Kraiman said.
Eid was critical of how American administrations have handled the conflicts in Israel, and said that each leader so far has become a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
“The problem with the American administrations is that the United States are donating money to everybody, Israelis and Palestinians,” Eid said.
Eid added that he doesn’t think that President Trump has offered any new solutions in his time as president.
Eid said he talked to a Trump advisor months ago, and got the impression that the administration is still trying to get a grasp on the intricacies of the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.
“He told me that ‘We as an administration are still studying and learning the conflict. The American administration has no plan right now,’” Eid said.
Statements like these are what lead Eid to believe that the only people who can actually solve the conflict are the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Kraiman said he definitely changed some of his opinions on this issue as a result of Eid’s speech.
“I definitely gained some new perspectives on the effects of foreign interference on the Palestinians,” Kraiman said.
In the question-and-answer portion of the lecture, one student asked if a solution could be reached between Israel and Palestine even if the international community decided to lessen their involvement. Eid said the solution can start with the help of a healthy economy.
“We have to figure out how to improve the daily lives of Palestinian citizens,” Eid said. “We need a long period of time right now to figure out how to increase the economic prosperity of the Palestinians.”
Another student asked if Eid thought there was a better alternative to current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“If you would ask me what the alternative to Abbas is, I would tell you Abbas. We don’t really have anything that we can build on right now for the future,” Eid said.
Eid said he remains hopeful that peace will develop in Israel, but is unsure of the time frame.
“I believe there will be a change, but in how many centuries, how many generations?”