He goes on to phrase the question of right of return in these terms:
Do you think that the US should force Israel to accept millions of Palestinian refugees within its pre-1967 borders and give them full citizenship rights if that is the only way to get peace in the Middle East?
There are so many misperceptions here! In limited and insufficient fashion, I'll try to point out the two major ones:
RIGHT OF RETURN
actually, the Palestinians have LONG accepted that Israel's demographic needs must be taken into consideration. Arafat himself has affirmed it. While its obvious from a practical standpoint that millions of Palestinians cannot settle in (pre-1967) Israel, this is exactly the kind of ludicrous misrepresentation that is consistently presented. A much more balanced proposal for handling right of return was presented by Uri Averny, and in fact I mailed that link to Steven, but he dismissed it completely out of hand. But its proposals like these that not only educate the public about what the sides really want, but also do something to further the solution, by presenting an actual plan of action. Dismissal of them based on pre-conceived notions, and propagating false views of Right of Return, are a disservice. But I wasn't able to get Steven to engage in debate on this, which is a shame since his is a wonderful site and he has a real pulpit from which he can make a huge difference.
BARAK WAS GENEROUS
The Barak proposal was ludicrously unbalanced. It set aside a portion of the west bank for the Palestinian state, but it carved out huge chunks within that area for IDF installations, for the Israeili settlements, and for security zones. Israeili-only highways crossed it, the borders with Jordan would be under IDF control, and the airspace itself would belong to Israel, not Palestine. The area would be separated into sections and Paletinians wanting to travel within their own "sovereign" state would still have to undergo checkpoints and travel with permission from the IDF. How can anyone think this is acceptable for people wanting a free land of their own?
There is excellent documentation on the true nature of the Barak proposal here. Its worth reading for anyone who desires to opine on the topic. It has MAPS and clear illustrations of precisely what the proposals were, something that was never released in American media.
The fundamental problem here is that Den Beste, like many other intelligent, articulate thinkers, is simply not doing due diligence. He has formed an opinion based on what he has been fed by the media. The picture he has formed is an artificial construct. Now, all material on that topic will be filtered through his conviction and any attempt to engage that opinion on debate will be shot down.
If there will be a solution to the Middle East problem, it will have to be because people on both sides with strong convictions actually LISTEN to what the other side is saying. The truth behind Right of Return and the Barak Proposal is just the beginning - but if more people can be aware of the facts instead of the misinformation, then maybe progress can be achieved - as it always has, through proposals and COMPROMISE.