Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Vision and courage for justice

Aug.8, 2007

Vision and courage for fairness, justice

IT IS WELCOME news that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is gathering support for a Middle East conference proposed by US President George W Bush in an intiative that could be prove to be a watershed for efforts to Arab-Israeli peace.
No doubt all key players will agree to attend the conference because the Saudi-intitiated Arab proposal is there as the only comprehensive approach to peace in Palestine and between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon.
Indeed, that is assuming that the Arab peace proposal would be the central theme at the proposed conference rather than the piecemeal approach favoured and demanded by Israel. If anyone has any other ideas, then the whole exercise would be wasted.
Therefore, it should be clear that Israel should not be using the conference to establish contacts and relations with the Arab World while it corners the Palestinians and tries to impose its version of a peace agreement on them.
The Arab peace plan envisions every things that is linked to Arab-Israeli co-existence in the region. The Arabs are offering the Jewish state the legitimacy it seeks as a member of the regional order in return for its return of the Arab territories it occupied in the 1967 war, co-operation in finding a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees and creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital.
Indeed, the key questions are the future of Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state and the right of return for refugees.
When Israeli leaders balk at making a commitment that the negotiations would include these issues, then it is time that the Arabs and those wishing a fair and just settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict took note.
We have used to Israel's deception-based strategies and tactics too long to accept anything at face value while dealing with the Jewish state.
There has to be a definite and irrevocable commitment on the Israeli side that these key issues would be placed on the table with the Palestinians with a view to working out an equitable solution that would not be at the expense of the Palestinians, who are the agrieved party.
Of course, some compromises would have to be made but nothing should infringe upon the core of the conflict — the inalienable and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
It requires willpower, courage and determination not only to propose peace on honourable terms but also to accept the challenge and do what it takes to settle a problem as complicated as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Arabs have done their part. Can or will the Israelis do their part?