For­got­ten Pales­tine

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Syed Tariq Pirzada Email: stariqp@ya­

to take his­toric steps for peace, just as his coun­try had done in 1979, re­fer­ring to Egypt-Is­rael peace treaty, which was based on the core prin­ci­ple of land for peace.“If by our com­bined ef­forts and real de­sire, said Al­sisi, we can all achieve a so­lu­tion to this (Pales­tine) prob­lem and find hope for the Pales­tini­ans and se­cu­rity for the Is­raelis, his­tory will write a new page that will be no less and might even be more of an achieve­ment than the sign­ing of the peace treaty be­tween Egypt and Is­rael forty years ago”.Tel Aviv cer­tainly heeded the call. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the Al­sisi ad­dress, Mr. Natanyahu, the much frus­trated Is­raeli Pre­mier , re­sponded that he is open to work­ing with Egypt and other Arab na­tions to ad­vance a diplo­matic process to end the Is­raeliPales­tinian con­flict.

As ref­er­enced be­fore, the French ini­tia­tive of­fers, in the first phase, an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence at­tended by the for­eign min­is­ters from 20 na­tions ex­clud­ing Pales­tine and Is­rael. The con­fer­ence, orig­i­nally sched­uled for May 30, was resched­uled, for lack of John Kerry’s avail­abil­ity, un­til some­time in June. But, in its sec­ond phase, the larger Paris in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence is sched­uled for some time this sum­mer. The French po­si­tion is clear that, in case the larger con­fer­ence fails, France would recog­nise the state of Pales­tine. The US po­si­tion is still not clear over the French ini­tia­tive.

The Egyp­tian ini­tia­tive does not op­pose the In­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on Pales­tinian state­hood but” it speaks of re­viv­ing, as Egypt’s for­eign min­is­ter, Sameh Shoukry clar­i­fies, peace talks be­tween Pales­tini­ans, and Is­raelis to end this con­flict, and es­tab­lish a Pales­tinian state”. Not only Natanyahu warmly ap­pre­ci­ated Pres­i­dent Al­sisi’s ini­tia­tive, he pointed, in no un­cer­tain terms, to the abil­ity to dis­cuss the Arab ini­tia­tive for peace which was in­tro­duced in 2002, and which in­cludes the diplo­matic recog­ni­tion of Is­rael by Arab coun­tries in re­turn for es­tab­lish­ing a Pales­tinian state”. Yet, he qual­i­fied, in the same breath, his state­ment that “we are will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with Arab states’ re­vi­sions to that ini­tia­tive so that it re­flects the dra­matic changes in the re­gion since 2002 but main­tains the agreed goal of two states for two peo­ples”.

The time has cer­tainly changed. As op­posed to the old Natanyahu, who was, once, a diehard dis­man­tler of the two states so­lu­tion, the new Natayahu, like a born-again Chris­tian, seems all geared to re-em­brace the idea of a two state so­lu­tion along the lines of the 2002 Arab so­lu­tion-the same so­lu­tion that he had, for the most part, dis­dain­fully un­der­mined in Bar-Lien Univer­sity ad­dress in 2009

The per­ils that are pro­pel­ling the new peace pro­posal are much too ob­vi­ous. Can Is­rael af­ford IS, or Daesh’s ex­panded mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions at its borders or in­side its ter­ri­to­ries, know­ing it all too well that al­ready IS ,or Daesh is main­tain­ing a pow­er­ful or­gan­i­sa­tional, and mil­i­tary pres­ence not only in Syria, and Iraq, but, also in Libya, and to some de­gree, in Si­nai. The an­swer lies in Natanyahu’s warm re­ac­tion to Egypt. What also ex­plains some for­ward move­ment or the sud­den burst of diplo­matic ac­tiv­ity from Ramallah , Cairo, Paris, and Wash­ing­ton is,partly, the fear of the IS ex­panded in­flu­ence-Paris at­tacks etc.cou­pled with the crush­ing pres­sure of Is­rael’s con­tin­ued bru­tal oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine, and the world-wide im­pact of the his­tor­i­cal in­jus­tice to the Pales­tini­ans.

It seems that the days of Is­rael’s in­tran­si­gence are num­bered un­der the present sce­nario. Ei­ther, the Is­raelis ac­cept (a) pres­i­dent Al-sisi’s ini­tia­tive, one that would nat­u­rally in­clude the 2002 land for peace for­mula, also known as the Saudi peace plan for the Mid­dle East-one that the Is­raelis have al­ready re­ferred to, or the Is­raelis agree (b) to the French spon­sored plan for in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on Pales­tine which Natanyahu has ap­par­ently dis­missed. Still, the con­fer­ence is likely to be held in Paris, as an­nounced, and will be at­tended, in­ter-alia, by Egypt and the Arab coun­tries. That Paris would move to recog­nise the state of Pales­tine in the event the Is­raelis fail to ac­cept the de­ci­sions made at the In­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence, will be a ma­jor diplo­matic blow to TelA­viv, or (c) in case the first two op­tions yield no re­sults, the third, op­tion, and an un­sa­vory one, would be Is­rael greet­ing the men­ac­ing pres­ence of IS at its borders that would con­fer on IS the golden op­por­tu­nity of her ex­ploit­ing the Arab sen­si­tiv­i­ties over the Is­rael’s con­tin­ued oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine. Not a de­sir­able op­tion at all.

The lat­est de­vel­op­ments con­firm that there is only so long the Is­raelis can stonewall on the cre­ation of a vi­able, in­de­pen­dent state of Pales­tine with Al-Quds (Jarusalem), as its cap­i­tal. The con­flu­ence of mul­ti­ple forces such as the in­tense Pales­tinian strug­gle, the Egyp­tian ini­tia­tive, the French led Euro diplo­macy, the quite US pres­sure, and pres­sure from the col­lapsed 2014 US- led ini­tia­tive, the over­whelm­ing global sup­port, and the IS fac­tor are all con­sti­tut­ing for Is­rael an in­escapable cor­ri­dor of re­gional, or global diplo­matic so­lu­tiontwo sov­er­eign states, Pales­tine, and Is­rael, liv­ing side by side in peace. Not the ag­gres­sor Is­rael, but the world would write for her a new, and per­ma­nent destiny. — The writer is se­nior po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst based in Islamabad.

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