Israel’s rejection of peaceful overtures

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The Israelis today have defied all international organizations and agencies in their drive to erase any Palestinian identity from the land that they have stolen under the guise of protection. But what do they have to worry about? In 2002, the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposed a peace plan with the Israelis and stated that he would do all within his power to ensure that all other Arab states followed suit. King Abdullah was very clear about his willingness for full peace and normalization of relations with Israel by all 22 Arab states, in return for the full Israeli withdrawal from all occupied lands and the creation of a Palestinian state.

King Abdullah’s proposal called for full Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and Israel’s acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel.

The King spelled out clearly that a military solution to the conflict would not achieve peace or provide security, nor would it be in the interest of the people in the region both Israelis and Arabs. In that he managed to get the commitment of all Arab states on the specifics was a remarkable step in the right direction.

The specifics of what eventually would be called the “Arab Peace Plan” requested Israel to reconsider its policies and declare its interest in a just peace. It also called for full Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon. It also called for the realization of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

Additionally, it called for the acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Arab countries for their part committed to consider that the Arab-Israeli conflict had ended, and to enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region. They also committed to establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace. Bilateral ties would include trade, tourism and other interchanges with a country long considered an aggressor.

Calling on the international community with all its organizations and states to support the initiative, the plan concluded with a call to the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept the initiative “in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighborliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.” The Arab street overwhelmingly embraced the new peace initiative in that it was simple yet comprehensive. The intent was peace in the region.

Unfortunately, the plan was stonewalled by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who had been elected in 2001 and who had a deep-seated hatred for anything Palestinian. So, when the peace plan was offered to Israel, Sharon rejected all overtures while his government set about annexing more land and building more illegal settlements in spite of protests from all Western governments and the UN. This practice is currently continuing under Benjamin Netanyahu whose ideology matches that of Sharon and who is also committed to wiping Palestinians off the face of the map. His agenda is not one of achieving peace but hegemony over the region.

It is a misfortune that the peace plan envisioned by an Arab ruler, which would have provided Israel all the security it needed, was allowed to wither on the vine. It is a tragedy not just for Arabs but also for the Jews of the region.

The Palestinians are simply not going to vanish. In spite of the murders of women, the demolishment of their homes, the imprisonment of their children, and the brutality of everyday life, no amount of force can kill the Palestinian spirit for their homeland.

The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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