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Current peace efforts should not fail

Feb 06,2014 - Last updated at Feb 06,2014

The present round of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, seen as perhaps the last chance to rescue the two-state solution and achieve durable peace, should not be allowed to fail.

For one thing, peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis is long overdue. It is time they put the conflict behind them and lived and let live.

For another, further prolonging the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not in the two sides’ interest. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring the whole region is sinking into chaos. There is no saying, if the peace talks fail, that Israelis and Palestinians will not be dragged into the chaos.

While much of what we read and hear in the media about the fate of the current round of peace talks is somewhat discouraging, there is a window of opportunity which should be seized.

The American administration, represented by the charismatic US Secretary of State John Kerry, is both deeply engaged in the process and exerting tremendous efforts and pressure to bring about a resolution, or at least an agreement on a framework for final status talks.

This US’ involvement is not to be underestimated. Without it, as the parties to the conflict themselves know well, no agreement is possible.

A few months ago, several reports came out that America was shifting its attention away from the region, to Southeast Asia. Many felt this would not bode well for the region and for Mideast peace, and were calling on America to reconsider.

Since America has not abandoned the Middle East and is, in fact, deeply committed, all concerned should capitalise on this historic moment. Such an opportunity and commitment do not come about often.

The attention Kerry is giving to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is almost unprecedented. It is reminiscent of that given in the late 1970s by president Jimmy Carter, which resulted in peace with Egypt.

Peace with Jordan and the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians were also brought about by George Bush Sr’s deep involvement in peacemaking and the Clinton administration.

However, many Palestinians, Jordanians and Arabs are nervous. They feel that more pressure is placed on the Palestinians than on the Israelis. They are afraid, in particular, that the Palestinian right of return might be compromised, that the Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories might not be dealt with satisfactorily, that the very existence of Arab Israelis might be threatened by Israel’s insistence on recognition of its “Jewishness”.

One hopes that such fears are baseless, and are due to the lack of information as to what is really going on behind closed doors in the negotiations.

The Obama administration and its team of mediators know both the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the facts on the ground extremely well. 

They know what should be done, therefore, to bring about real peace, like the one made between Israel and Egypt in the late 1970s, in which Israel withdrew from all occupied Egyptian territories.

And they know that the last thing the region wants is another problematic Oslo that would open a new can of worms and promote conflict rather than solve it.

Israel is the occupier and the Palestinians are occupied.

The creation of Israel and its resort to militarism since then are the causes of the Palestinian tragedy and diaspora.

There are very many UN resolutions pertaining to Palestinians’ rights (including the right of return) that Israel simply disregards.

The illegal Israeli settlements are built on usurped, occupied, Palestinian land. Insistence on the Jewishness of Israel is a procrastinating, subversive tactic.

These and other things the Americans and the Israelis know. And they know that one cannot victimise the victim further, and that if there is to be real peace, Israel must be held accountable and hand over to the Palestinians what is rightfully theirs, unconditionally.

Israelis have their state, and they can call it whatever they like. Palestinians need their own state. Israel and America must work actively on giving it to them. In return, Israel will enjoy true security, stability and peace.

If the current American-led peace initiative succeeds, it could be the “tipping point” for stability, peace and prosperity in the entire region.

For these and many other reasons, current peace efforts should not fail.

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