Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mideast Peace -- Now or Maybe Never

Liam Bailey

There are those who believe that all Israel seeks is to live in peaceful coexistence with its Arab neighbours. Others believe Israel is completely driven by Zionism and its overtures of finding a peaceful solution is nothing more than empty rhetoric.

Regardless, few can deny the Palestinians have suffered, perhaps worse, from the occupation – from the thousands of Palestinians killed during Israel's occupations, incursions, air-strikes, and operations in unoccupied or previously disengaged areas, to the thousands of Palestinians forced to live in abject poverty by the Israeli enforced financial blockade since 2006, not to mention the thousands forced from their homes by all the above.

Nor can anyone deny that the neighbouring Arab states are perhaps as much to blame for the Palestinians suffering. After all, if, instead of going to war they had accepted the U.N. General Assembly (G.A.) partition plan in 1947, the Arabs of Palestine would have had far more land than they would happily settle for now and there would scarcely be any Palestinian refugees. Of course Israel may have attempted to gain land by going on the offensive, but would have surely received no support for an offensive war, without which they would almost certainly have failed miserably. Either way things would probably have been far better for present day Palestinians. But what's done is done and what is needed is a solution.

The latest hope for peace is the revitalization of the 2002 Saudi initiative. The Arab League rarely speaks with one voice, but it is currently, to re-offer the most comprehensive peace package ever to Israel and therefore the best chances of future security. As it is this time being offered as a platform for negotiation rather than an easily rejected ultimatum, and given the current growth of Shiite Iranian influence in the region, as well as the world's focused attention on ending one of its longest running and most brutal occupations, if the Saudi initiative doesn't bring peace I find it hard to see what will.

For a start the rare Arab unity presents the opportunity to offer Israel normalized relations with all Arab (League) states, which was never considered possible before 2002 and has been called a "political revolution". The initiative also offers a possible compromise on the refugee issue.

Israel cannot grant full right of return because it would drastically change Israel's demography and it would no longer be a safe-haven for the world's Jews. Although the initiative mentions the implementation of U.N.G.A. Resolution 194, demanding all Palestinian refugees be (granted full right of return) allowed to return to their homes in what is now Israel, and those not wanting to return be given suitable compensation, it also suggests finding "a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem." As the initiative was originally offered as an ultimatum, Israel, with no room for negotiations on a just solution, was scared away by the mention of Resolution 194. Now that the initiative is being offered as a basis for negotiations hopefully a "just solution" can be found quickly.

If Israel craves normalized relations with all surrounding Arab states and the Palestinians within, this is the offer for them. And it couldn't have come at a better time, when Israel needs friends like it never has before to stand against Iran. The Arab's too, being of Sunni faith are seeking to unite against the possible domination of the region by Shiite Iran, and my enemy's enemy being my friend, a peaceful alliance with Israel suddenly may not seem too distasteful. Therefore negotiations, for perhaps the first time, should stand on firm ground with all parties wanting the talks to find a resolution to the conflict. Nonetheless negotiations will be difficult.

The Arab initiative demands a Palestinian state on the land taken by Israel in the 1967 war, another demand to which Israel cannot capitulate. Israel has built settlements on the land and other fixtures near its borders. Therefore, for the future security of all Israelis it is widely agreed that a land swap will be necessary, giving back land equivalent to that taken in 1967. The Arab's also demand that the new Palestinian state's capital be east Jerusalem, which has previously stuck in Israel's throat, but hopefully, in the new light of mutual determination to find an agreement, these previously in-traversable obstacles to peace can be ironed out through negotiations. A new issue for negotiations to deal with will be the security wall Israel has been building since 2002.

That said, if an agreement were to be reached on the Saudi initiative: the Palestinians were granted a state with east Jerusalem as its capital, on land equal to that taken in 1967, and the Palestinian refugees were offered a home in the new state or suitable compensation, Israel and its surrounding Arab states should enjoy a future of security and peaceful coexistence. Negotiations could secure an agreement on the wall being torn down after an agreed period of Israeli security.

With circumstances bringing all Arab states together in seeking an agreement with Israel and for the first time Israel just as eagerly seeking unity with the Arabs, it's now or never.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sadly israel had agreed to protect mecca with the prophet or was it medina and they never protected their side of the port and therefore led to the death of many arabs, any arab nation that accept their deal is doomed to be destroyed by extrimist group and their kings blood will be shed and they will not only face the faith of egyptian king but they will also end up in hell and from that view it would be better for them to unite with iran rather then jewish.
iran with their nuclear is more safe to arabs then israelian with nuclear.
and extrimists will never allow it, countries are not run by kings and presidens but the people maybe the US should be reminded that they can't appart them self from the people.

nice reading ure blog