Home Page

Diplomacy is the Only Way to Achieve Palestinian Statehood

Editorial; Lebanon Daily Star, 23.05.06

Ehud Olmert was never considered a likely candidate for the Israeli premiership until the crisis of Ariel Sharon's deteriorating health thrust him into the national spotlight. But now, the unlikely premier is on his way toward earning a place among the founders of the state of Israel, since one of his main objectives is to set Israel's permanent borders. Today, Olmert is in Washington to discuss this objective with U.S. President George W. Bush, and he is likely to secure preliminary approval for his unilateral plans.
While Olmert is busy laying the groundwork to carve off large swathes of Palestinian territory for the state of Israel, the Palestinians are busy fighting among themselves. The escalating clashes between rival Fatah and Hamas factions are now more damaging to the Palestinian people than Israeli raids. As long as the Palestinians are plagued by infighting, they will never be able to channel their collective energies into thwarting Israel's unilateral ambitions.
While Olmert is due to meet with Bush in Washington today, Palestinian factions are scheduled to gather for their first round of national dialogue, which was called to forge a unified Palestinian agenda. In order to create a united front, both Hamas and Fatah will have to compromise. The two groups will also need to rally behind a single agenda that renounces violence and therefore denies Israel its justification for its oppressive and unilateral measures.
In the early days of Lebanon's Civil War, Palestinian leaders in Beirut famously argued that "the road to Jerusalem passes through Jounieh," implying that it was necessary for the Palestinians to trample and destroy Lebanese Christian militias before they could create a Palestinian state. The irony that Jounieh is a Christian town to the North of Beirut - in the opposite direction as Palestine - was as lost on as many Palestinian leaders then as it is now. It is illogical to believe that the creation of Palestine will come through the destruction of other forces. There is no road to Palestine except through Palestine, and a Palestinian state cannot be created through the elimination of any other entity.
It is imperative for all concerned, Egyptians, Saudis, even Iranians, to impress upon Palestinian leaders the need to be disciplined and united in confronting Israeli unilateralism. If the Palestinians fail to rally behind a single, peaceful agenda, they will be closing off the only path - diplomacy - that will lead to the creation of a viable Palestinian state.