Home Page

Why Peace Now

By REEMA I. ALI, The Middle East Times

Date: 02.01.2009

Whether the United States continues to advocate the preemptive war doctrine or becomes a 'green' and 'soft' superpower, and whatever maps the new administration looks at, the central apparent issue that cannot be and should not be ignored is the stability of the Middle East and the impact this has on U.S. strategic national interests.

Key to the stability of the region is the resolution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict through the implementation of a two-state solution along the lines of international consensus of the pre-1967 borders.

The conflict is a distraction to winning the war on terrorism and diverts valuable economic resources from global development and the quest for dependable and renewable energy supplies in the 21st century.

The current economic conditions alone require the United States to seriously address its national interest issues. To achieve its national interests in the area America must address the single cause that is shared by Arabs and Muslims.

It has always been clear to those who are familiar with the inner circles of this region's politics that the solution of the conflict is known. It is the 1967 borders, give or take. It is also widely stated that the parties to the conflict lack the courage or the conviction to implement the solution. All peace initiatives have centered on the "give or take" part of the sentence causing the conflict to be dubbed an unsolvable quagmire when in fact the true quagmire and nightmare is to leave the conflict unresolved.

The starting point to the solution of this conflict is to remove all settlements, which are no more than occupation units, and the encroachment of the so-called 'fence' - a Berlin-like wall - on Palestinian lands.

By all accounts the vast majority of the Palestinian people are law-abiding citizens who face daily humiliation and degradation at Israeli checkpoints. The Palestinian people and their economy are suffocating because of the ring roads that choke their towns to service the illegal occupation units (settlements) that do not serve the state of Israel and are not on Israeli land.

If Israel is true to peace it must depart from the doctrine of "the devil in the details" and remove all settlements from the West Bank.

To date Israel has 'debated' peace with the Palestinians as a part time hobby and erected new settlements on a full-time basis. If the United States is to regain its position as a relevant friend of the region it must insist on the permanent removal of settlements as a matter of policy. The settlements do not enhance Israel's security or its economy; they simply destroy the Palestinian economy and feed their anger. The settlements have impeded the Palestinian Authority's efforts to form effective government institutions and have created an insurmountable obstacle to the revival of the economy in the West Bank.

By subsidizing the existence of these settlements all Israeli governments have thus far invested huge resources to create entities that destroy every confidence building measure with the Palestinians. This single point will restore confidence in the peace process by correcting the ugly misrepresentation of the Israeli society by belligerent settlers thus making peace an achievable goal.

Demolishing the aspirations of the Palestinian people of statehood and national dignity is not an attainable objective through any means, least of which is force. Israel's experimentation and quest for finding an alternative to the Palestine Liberation Organization has failed and will continue to fail. This conflict cannot be resolved by force and cannot be resolved through forcing the Palestinians to give further compromises. Their compromise has already been given. It is the 1967 borders.

Neither the United States' nor Israel's national interests will be served by choking the Palestinians to poverty through the lack of a peaceful solution. The Palestinian people will not evaporate. This problem will not go away and cannot be shelved for time to solve it. It is likely to fester and come back to haunt everyone. Those who advocate that the conflict is not ripe for solution do not have their finger on the region's pulse and certainly do not have the region's, America's or Israel's interests at heart.

Politicians from both sides must be honest and rise above their internal politicking through a referendum of their own people on the single issue of whether or not they want to live in peace with their neighbors along the lines of the international consensus.

Both nations are the dependants of outside economies. The United States is the greatest contributor to the Israeli economy and the Palestinians are dependent on Arab and foreign support. These resources cannot continue to be spent in vain. Nor should they continue to be left to the whims of extremists on both sides. The centrality of the conflict to the strategic interest of global stability dictates that it cannot be left hostage to a cycle of national elections and fragile coalition governments. The stability of the region, a U.S. strategic interest, is contingent upon the peaceful resolution of the Palestinian Israeli conflict.