Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bottom lines are clear

Nov.17, 2007

The bottom lines are clear

It is no susprise that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has voiced pessimism about the planned US-sponsored Middle East conference. It is a feeling of many around the world since Israel has not done the minimum it could do to ensure the success of the gathering, which is widely seen as a make-or-break point in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
The Israeli leadership has only talked about their commitment to making peace. They have not really offered anything tangible that would allow Abbas to assure his people that the fresh effort could produce anything realistic for an end to their suffering under Israel's military occupation of their land.
As recent opinion polls have indicated, a majority of Palestinians support the planned conference as a forum where both Israel and the Palestinians not only declare to the world their serious and honest intention to work out a peace agreement but also the framework for such an accord. This should indeed be based on Israel's recognition and acceptance of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians as the basis for peace in Palestine. The Jewish state also has to agree on a timeframe and a deadline for an agreement. The Palestinians and indeed the world have had the experience of seeing Israel loudly proclaiming its seriousness to make peace at the famous 1991 Madrid conference but then do everything in its power to abort a just and fair agreement after a change in its leadership despite that it had signed an interim agreement.
Israel is refusing to make any public commitment on the basis for peace since it believes that it is in a position of strength and therefore it could dictate terms and force the Palestinians to settle far less than their demands in bilateral negotiations. That is one of the key reasons that do not give any reason for the Palestinians to believe that the US-sponsored exercise would be a waste of time.
The stubborn Israeli position is in fact weakening Abbas, who has yet to work out a formula to bring in the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, into peacemaking.
Israel and the US should be taking their message from Friday's Hamas-led marc o he deserted Gaza City house of Abbas, warning of stepped-up armed resistance if he makes concessions to Israel at the planned conference. There are many ifs and buts concerning the Hamas stand on peace with Israel, but is clear that the movement would be willing to endorse a peace agreement that does not involve any compromise on the key issues such as Jerusalem and rights of Palestinian refugees.
Again, the onus is on the US, which should step in and put pressure on Israel, obliging it to comply with the terms of reference of the peace process — the internationallyb-backed roadmap, the Arab peace initiative and UN Security Council resolutions. Short of that the Annapolis would accomplish little.