Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian Christian and award-winning journalist who was the first Palestinian to interview former Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. He has spent much of his career fighting for a free media in Palestine under both Israeli occupation and Palestininian authority. He is also a 1975 graduate of Messiah College (now Messiah University) where I have taught American history for twenty-one years. (His brother, Jonathan Kuttab, a Palestininian human rights lawyer, graduated with a degree in history from Messiah).
Here is a taste of Daoud Kuttab’s Washington Post piece, “The lesson from the Hamas attack: The U.S. should recognize a Palestininian state”:
…This absence of a political process was compounded by the recent stoking of religious tensions. Three days before the Hamas attack, Jordan, the recognized custodian of the holy places in Jerusalem, sent a letter to the Israeli Embassy in Amman protesting the fact that Jewish “visitors” had begun praying loudly on the grounds of the al-Aqsa Mosque. At the same time, Israeli police imposed an age restriction preventing young Palestinian Muslim men from entering the mosque itself. While secular Palestinian leaders might be open to a political compromise, religious leaders are much less flexible when matters of faith are in question.
Israeli Jewish nationalists were upending a carefully orchestrated status quo agreement on Muslim holy sites, and their actions have hurt the Christian community in Jerusalem, as well. Last month in Rome, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, raised the situation with Pope Francis and mentioned it in news conferences and during his first homily. He even said that Gaza was an “open prison” — a statement that angered Israelis who have been blindly complacent for so long that they were unable to hear advice even from their friends.
The carefully planned attacks on Saturday produced atrocities that cannot be denied or justified. No righteous cause excuses the slaughter of innocents on the other side. But they also revealed a basic truth: People always want to be free of occupation and of colonial foreign settlements on their land.
Palestinians have been unable to liberate their land using political means. Negotiation efforts by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the secular Palestinian Authority, have come up empty, as has nonviolent activism to boycott Israel. As a result, religious Palestinians have been left with little choice but to attempt to address their own people’s oppression.
There is no mystery about what must happen next. Even though it is lower than before, support for the two-state solution among both Israelis and Palestinians is higher than for any other alternative. But having a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel requires recognition by the United Nations. The United States has repeatedly wielded its veto against the very same issue to which it pays lip service.
As soon as the violence ebbs, President Biden should courageously recognize an independent and democratic Palestinian state living in peace side by side with a secure Israel. Such a move would need no congressional blessing. Once a Palestinian state under occupation is recognized by the U.N. Security Council, productive talks between representatives of the state of Israel and representatives of the state of Palestine can then begin in earnest.
Read the entire piece here.