نكون محظوظين في المرة الثالثة؟
مباحثات المبادرة العربية)
هآرتز الإسرائيلية - 26/3/2007
Third time lucky?
By Terry Newman
Why is everyone so excited about the Arab initiative? From 1993 to 2000,
Israelis and Palestinians negotiated. They failed. From
2001 to 2006, Americans and Israelis negotiated. They
failed. Now there is a third chance - negotiations
between the Arab world and Israel. Is this a case of
third time lucky?
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations failed because they ignored religion and
did not set an end-game. The Israelis expanded
settlements. The Palestinians expanded terror
activities. When they got to the end-game, Arafat was
unable and unwilling to deliver the Islamists. They
American-Israeli negotiations failed because they ignored the Palestinians.
The letters of understanding between U.S. President
George W. Bush and former Israeli prime minister Ariel
Sharon removed Israeli settlements from Gaza and parts
of the West Bank. The Americans removed Arafat and
promoted democratization to reduce terror. Instead they
brought the Islamists to power and terror increased.
So now to the third option, Arab-Israeli negotiations. While the idea is not
new, the possibility of implementation is. Israel called
for this in 1967. The Arab world said "no, no,
no." Egypt called for this in 1978, Israel said
"no, no, no." Here is an opportunity both
sides have wanted at one point in their history.
Israel will withdraw from all the territories it captured in 1967 from
Egypt, Jordan and Syria and accept the
"establishment of a sovereign independent
Palestinian state - with East Jerusalem as its
capital." A "just solution to the Palestinian
refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN
General Assembly Resolution 194" will be found.
Every Arab nation will sign comprehensive peace treaties
with Israel and promote economic, cultural and
diplomatic normalization. In short, the Arab-Israeli
conflict will become history.
So why might the Arab initiative work when all others have failed? First, we
already know the end-game. The territorial map is more
or less clear. There will be minor border adjustments
but the Palestinians will get 100 percent of the
territory captured by Israel in 1967. For Israel this is
true "land for peace." This is no hudna
("calm"); it is a full peace treaty.
Second, it offers an authentic Arab and Islamic address. The Arab world is
the only force able to control the Palestinian people
today. Gaza is an armed society ruled by the democracy
of rifles. The appeal of International Islamism is
exceeding the power of Palestinian nationalism. If Hamas
sends another bomber or missile into Israel, they will
have defied Saudi Arabia, the rulers of Mecca.
Third, it will offer the strongest counterweight to the rise of non-Arab,
Shi'ite Iran. Iran spreads two ideologies: Shi'ism and
Islamism. Hezbollah offers a perfect fit. Hamas only
listens to the second. The Arab world wants to bring
Sunni Islamists such as Hamas back into its camp. This
will not stop Iran's nuclear ambitions, but it will
limit the country's capability for low-intensity proxy
warfare. If the Arab world can win back Syria at the
same time - even better. This suits Israel's strategic
So what are the sticking points? First, the comprehensive peace approach
involves bringing in Syria from the cold at a time when
the international and the Arab community are alarmed at
Syria's build-up of arms, enraged at Assad's rape of
Lebanon, and incensed at Damascus' alleged assassination
of Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister.
Second, the initiative demands that Israel leave East Jerusalem, including
the Old City, and uproot half a million Jews. The Arab
leadership knows this will not fly. They know the Jewish
commitment and connection to Jerusalem and the larger
settlement blocks. It is probably an opening position to
keep all 22 Arab countries united, but the Jerusalem
issue will stir religious emotions throughout the globe.
Who knows what will happen when the Jerusalem genie
comes out of the lamp?
Finally, the refugees. The Palestinian refugees dispersed throughout Syria,
Lebanon and the Arab world will shout for a return to
Israel, not Palestine. The Jewish refugees from Arab
countries will shout for compensation. But don't be
fooled, the key issue is "justice." The Arabs
want Israel to take historic responsibility for starting
the 1948 war and creating the Palestinian refugees. The
Israelis remember the Palestinian collaboration with the
Nazis and their calls to ethnically cleanse all the Jews
of Arab and Muslim lands. This was a war of survival,
not one of retribution.
The initiative is bringing sworn enemies together - the Islamists and
Israel. It is bringing both sides' dirty laundry out
into the open. The Islamists in the Arab world still
want to destroy Israel, but will be forced to recognize
the existence of the Jewish State. Israel, which prefers
negotiating with nationalists and always feared the
power of the Islamists behind Arafat, will have to
accept the existence of a predominantly Islamist
government in Palestine.
This is not a pan-Arab initiative, but a pan-Islamo-Arab initiative. That is
why it comes from Saudi Arabia, the heart of Islam and
not Egypt, the heart of the modern Arab world. Israel
should react positively because ultimately it needs to
make peace with the Islamic people of the Arab world and
not just with their Westernized leaders.
So does the initiative have legs? Yes. Will it make it to the finishing
line? Maybe. But what is for certain is that it is the
best way to reduce the growing influence of Iran and
contain the Islamists in the region, and maybe the
world. Is this third time lucky? I hope so.
Terry Newman is the former Political Aide to Lord Janner of Braunstone in
the British Parliament. He currently works between Egypt
and Israel as a political analyst and business
لهذه المقالات لا يعني أنها
تعبر عن وجهة نظر المركز كلياً
من حق الزائر الكريم أن ينقل وأن ينشر كل ما يعجبه من موقعنا . معزواً إلينا ، أو غير معزو .ـ