Peace Talks Offer Little for Israelis And Palestinians
by Dan Ehrlich

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab nations that have recognized Israel and leaders in both these nations have been killed by their own people for this perceived insult to Islam. So, since Arab temperaments change with the winds, one has to wonder how long this peaceful co-existence will last.

The current Israel-Palestine peace talks, a number of then have been set, are an attempt at stopping the violence and creating a viable Palestinian state in the territories Israel occupied after the 1967 War and also creating lasting peace in the region.

Yet since half the population isn't being represented, the Hamas half in Gaza, how can these talks be of any value? They can't for Israel except showing to the world that the Israelis are willing to bargain.

Any results at the talks will almost certainly be denounced by Hamas, an organization that will continue in its attempts to eventually overthrow the West Bank government of Mahmoud Abbas. The murder last week of four Israeli civilians on the West Bank was a Hamas calling card aimed at embarrassing Abbas and showing how it can operate freely anywhere in the Palestinian territories. This security problem is a major concern that has to be addressed before any state is formed.

In this way, Hamas is more honest about its intentions than Abbas. It sticks to the original Arab line that there's no place in the region for a non-Islamic, non-Muslim nation. But, they are apparently willing to accept the Saudi peace plan, for now, that rolls all borders back to 1966.

Abbas, on the other hand, saying he wants justice and a nation for the Palestinians is in fact a tool and pawn or the 22 nation Arab League, most of whose members still reject Israel. They know any favorable deal Abbas can work out will in reality be unfavorable for Israel's future. Yet, some Arab states in the Gulf region, especially Saudi Arabia, now fear Iran's imperial ambitions far more than Israel, which seems benign by comparison.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend
For some time some of the Arab states have viewed Israel in “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” scenario, much as the Allies viewed Russia during WW2. The predominantly Sunni Arabs see Israel and its close pal America as their protectors against Shi'ite Iran.

So, what does Abbas want? In case you don't know by now, he wants a Palestinian state composed of the West Bank and Gaza...a divided state arrangement that history shows doesn't work well. He wants Jerusalem as his capital city. And he wants two million refugees in Lebanon to return to homes in Israel. Finally, he would like Jewish settlement activity on his side of the wall to cease and Jews already there to leave. Basically what he and the Arab League want is the original 1947 UN partition plan they rejected in favor of endless war against the infidels.

The first two of these are possibilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu has relented in favor of creating a Palestinian state and now, even on the taboo subject of Jerusalem, there may be some flexibility.

Israeli Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said his government is willing to split Jerusalem, a reversal for a regime that had previously insisted that Jerusalem “remain the undivided capital of Israel.”

Barak says, "West Jerusalem and 12 Jewish neighborhoods that are home to 200,000 residents will be ours. The Arab neighborhoods, in which close to a quarter million Palestinians live, will be theirs. There will be a special regime in place along with agreed upon arrangements in the Old City, the Mount of Olives and the City of David." But this talk may be just that or a useful bargaining tool.
Refugees denied Arab citizenship
As for the 2 million refugees, forget it. This is where the Arab states have shown their true colors. While the Israeli's have gone to great lengths to bring Jewish refugees to Israel, the 22 Arab states have all but disowned the Palestinians, except for using them as a weapon against Israel.

The League edict is still in place that bans Palestinians from obtaining citizenship in other Arabs nations. No other indigenous people behave in this manner to their own brothers. Their logic here is sound, if the refugees were allowed to be citizens of other Arab nations they would give-up the fight against Israel. It's better to keep them in camps.

Yet how much world outrage has there been about this fact? What western liberal boycotts have been formed to force the Arabs to own up to their responsibility to their people?

Of course, the Arab reasoning is about as one-sided as the western liberal negativity towards Israel. “We didn't create the refugees, Israel did,”is how it goes. But the refugees were created by the Arab wars to destroy Israel. “Those wars were just wars because Israel had no right to be on Arab land.” What about the more than half million Jews booted out of Arab nations? “That's what they deserved for supporting an infidel state on our turf.”

As for West Bank Jewish housing developments, this was a side issue that has taken center stage, even though there's a simple solution. Israel should keep its ban on new construction in place. But, Israel says it will start building again later this month. With this position the Israelis hope to pressure Abbas into making a deal.

This is something that's mind such a brainy people can be so blind as to with whom they are dealing. If this was an Arab horse trade exclusive of other parties it might work. But America is also in the mix and as long as Abbas knows he can cry foul to the US, Israeli hardball tactics probably won't work. This is an example of why this conflict may have lasted so long...big power involvement giving all sides another option instead of those sides being forced to settle things by themselves.

It stands to reason if 1.5 million Arabs can live in Israel, why shouldn't Jews be allowed to live on the West Bank? In the interest of fairness the answer is simple: If this is Palestinian land it's up to them to decide who lives there.

But, if Abbas really was his own man he would accept the divided state that had been on the table for years and not make additional conditions. However, as was the case with the late Yassar Arafat, he's answerable to the Arab League.

What western nations never seem to grasp is the singularity of purpose mixed with pragmatism, when needed, that drives the Arab states. They want what they want and, if they have to, will wait until eternity to get it. Time means very little to societies that, for the most part, go nowhere.

This reasoning, and far more extreme views, still persists in the Arab tribal mindset and since Arab leadership changes can move from one extreme to another, its difficult to see how any lasting peace can come from talks where the participants are from different worlds.

No comments:

Post a Comment

comments here: