Act quickly for change

A sea­soned Pales­tinian politi­cian of­fers some con­crete steps to push the peace process for­ward


THE AN­NAPO­LIS meet­ing, de­spite the cyn­i­cism of the ex­perts, was a re­sound­ing vic­tory for the per­sis­tent ef­forts of Rice, Ab­bas and Olmert. The pres­ence of Saudi Ara­bia and Syria sig­nalled the de­sire of the Arab League to demon­strate its com­mit­ment to the Arab peace ini­tia­tive. But Olmert and Ab­bas will re­turn home to face for­mi­da­ble ef­forts to top­ple their gov­ern­ments by their do­mes­tic op­po­si­tion. Olmert looks likely to weather the ef­forts to break his coali­tion. Ab­bas has to demon­strate to the Pales­tinian pub­lic that he did not come back empty-handed. Pales­tinian ne­go­tia­tors have con­stantly asked to re­turn to the lines that ex­isted on Septem­ber 28, 2000. The process started be­fore An­napo­lis in Nablus, where Olmert ap­proved the de­ploy­ment of 300 more Pales­tinian po­lice­men to help se­cure the West Bank city. A grad­ual re­de­ploy­ment of Is­raeli troops from West Bank towns should com­ple­ment the grow­ing abil­ity of Pales­tinian po­lice to en­force law and or­der. Se­cu­rity suc­cess will al­low the process to ad­vance.

Both sides have to im­ple­ment the com­mit­ments de­fined in the Road Map. A tri­lat­eral Amer­i­can, Is­raeli and Pales­tinian com­mis­sion has to stan­dard­ise those com­mit­ments and see them im­ple­mented. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, joint teams should deal with fi­nal-sta­tus is­sues like Jerusalem, refugees, set­tle­ments, borders and fair dis­tri­bu­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources.

In the mean­time, this com­ing De­cem­ber, the Paris donors’ meet­ing should pro­vide Tony Blair with the tools to re­write the eco­nomic map. The Paris meet­ing should pro­vide the funds to im­ple­ment am­bi­tious eco­nomic plans like the Rand Ark project, which will cre­ate jobs in the West Bank. Even­tu­ally it will be ap­plied in Gaza.

Re­lease of Pales­tinian pris­on­ers in large groups, as is done now, does not help ei­ther camp. In Is­rael it raises emo­tional out­bursts; in Pales­tine it is seen as too lit­tle at long in­ter­vals. A bi­lat­eral com­mis­sion should meet reg­u­larly to es­tab­lish stan­dards, dis­cuss all cases and re­lease small num­bers reg­u­larly. This can demon­strate a se­ri­ous at­ti­tude to­ward the hu­man­i­tar­ian needs of this in­flu­en­tial sec­tor of so­ci­ety.

On the Arab front, the Arab League should make a con­certed ef­fort to re­verse the takeover of the Gaza Strip by Ha­mas and help Fatah and Ha­mas rec­on­cile. Arab League troops can be in­tro­duced in Gaza to sta­bilise the sit­u­a­tion, heal in­ter-Pales­tinian dif­fer­ences and stop the vi­o­lence.

In Is­rael, the process should be a joint Kadima-Labour ef­fort, in or­der to with­stand the ef­forts of those who op­pose end­ing the con­flict. Meretz and the Arab Knes­set bloc should be part of this part­ner­ship.

A sec­ond se­quel to An­napo­lis should be con­vened in Moscow within the next three months to put the Syr­ian and the Le­banese is­sues on the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble and to wean Syria off the in­flu­ence of Iran. This will clearly demon­strate that a com­pre­hen­sive peace is be­ing sought for all the coun­tries of the Mid­dle East. Hanna Sin­iora is a mem­ber of the Pales­tinian Na­tional Coun­cil and co-CEO of the Is­rael/Pales­tine Cen­tre for Re­search and In­for­ma­tion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.