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‘Peace for all or peace for none’

Aug 22,2017 - Last updated at Aug 22,2017

The Middle East is a region that has been deprived of peace for no less than a full decade.

All efforts, by the UN, superpowers, regional actors and mediators over the years to resolve causes of instability have failed. Actually, the situation has been steadily deteriorating.

The region remains a major source of widening instability well beyond the region’s borders.

It all started with the injustice planned, and later on planted, in Palestine in the middle of the last century.

Commenting on the outcome of a limited Arab consultation meeting in Cairo last Saturday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, who then conferred with his Egyptian and Palestinian counterparts, discussing the stalled Middle East peace process, said: “If the Palestinian people are deprived of peace, the region cannot enjoy it.”

I would easily add “not just the region”. Instability has been spreading.

The foreign minister is absolutely right. The Palestinian injustice is the root cause, not just one of the root causes, and the very origin of instability, conflict, radicalisation, terror, extremist trends, cultural diseases, sectarianism, backwardness, economic problems, underdevelopment, poverty and much more. The list could expand indefinitely.

As proven by the region’s history, and the sequence of events since the Zionist programme became due for implementation in Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century, Safadi’s statement could apply retroactively: it has indeed been valid since then.

Although during most of last century the existing international climate was totally different from what has developed since, it was not that difficult to sense the danger of local disputes spreading beyond their limited original spheres.

History is rife with examples of small local troubles developing quickly into major international crisis putting the world on the brink of global confrontation.

A brief look at the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict offers a very clear example of such thesis.

1948 witnessed the first Arab-Israeli war that ended with the creation of Israel on 78 per cent of the land of Palestine, sending 750,000 Palestinians to uncertain destitution.

With time, the body of Palestinian refugees grew to close to 7 million. International failure to resolve the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe initiated a chain of major events that continues till this very day.

First, the impact of the Arab League armies’ failure to defend Palestine that year caused military coups in many Arab countries, aborting any nascent process of democratisation.

Then, there was another war in 1956, to which Israel was a major contributor. The Suez crisis and the tripartite British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt that year were about to lead to an East (Soviet)-West (American led) confrontation.

Then, another major war was started in 1967 by the Israeli invasion of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, ending in the occupation by Israel of Egyptian, Syrian and Palestinian lands.

By then, all of Palestine became occupied by Israel.

Unresolved again, the complications created by the 1967 war led to another war, in 1973, the additional complications of which were also left loose.

In between and after the major wars there were constant clashes and raids. And there were other Israeli wars against Lebanon and Gaza.

From Jewish-Palestinian, the conflict transformed into an Israeli-Arab problem, then into a regional conflict involving countries like Iran and Turkey, and then into an Israeli-Muslim conflict implicating all Muslim countries, particularly when Jerusalem and its holy places fell under Israeli occupation, 50 years ago.

The origins of the other wars, the two Gulf wars, as well as the raging crises in a number of Arab countries could easily be traced to the original conflict and the injustice in Palestine since the beginning of the last century.

At the time, the movement of people and goods, even of ideas and news of daily happenings, was not as easy as now.

Even among democracies, crossing of national borders adhered to stricter regulations and borders were easier to monitor against breach. Therefore, the dissemination of local crises was slower.

The surging process of globalisation, however, has been too fast for international order managers, as well as for states’ apparatuses, to adapt to totally new realities where traditional national borders were becoming ineffective in providing protection; where national sovereignty was substantially compromised; and where interdependence among nations and states was becoming a fact of life rendering self-sufficiency and isolationist trends past relics.

If local crises managed to expand in narrower space in a past ridden with restrictions and obstructions, they definitely expand faster and far wider in our globalised world where movement across borders is becoming impossible to restrict.

The bright side of globalisation is inevitably outweighed by the dark one, unfortunately.

Enabled to move freely in our emerging global village have been not only good people and legitimate merchandise, but also dangerous people and killing tools. Such bad elements are using modern technology with the same ease to orchestrate and perpetrate horrifying crimes anywhere a soft target can be reached.

No wonder, then, that terrorists are hitting indiscriminately, senselessly and with unprecedented cruelty in all parts of the world.

The injustice is feeding the terrorists’ ideology and the ease of movement across the globe is enabling them to proliferate. 

No amount of security precautions or prevention is able to stem the growing evil.

Israel owns a powerful army and a sizeable nuclear arsenal. It occupies and it has an elaborate political protection and support from important world powers.

It may not feel threatened or intimidated. It won almost all wars and is capable of waging more. But none of that could make it secure or make its people feel safe or enjoy peace. That has been the case since it was created.

The only way is to enable others to have peace as well. This can only happen by redressing the injustice and enabling all to enjoy peace and safer living conditions.


The obvious formula is simple: peace for all or peace for none.

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