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The question that demands an answer

Jul 04,2018 - Last updated at Jul 04,2018

The pitiful photo of the Palestinian children of Khan Al Ahmar, whose tents and village are to be removed by the Israeli army to expand the nearby Jewish illegal settlement of Kfar Adumim, is just too much to ignore: It encapsulates all the injustice, the illegality, the coercion and the cruelty of the Israeli government towards the Palestinian people.

It had been the hopes of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and His Majesty the late King Hussein that the peace treaties would lead to peace between Palestinians and Israelis; this may have also been the hope of the Israeli presidents who signed them, but their successors saw them otherwise: If Egypt and Jordan recognised Israel, why should Israel worry about the Palestinians?

And yet, something has happened: The little, miserable village of Khan Al Ahmar has become the symbol of the tragedy of the Palestinian people and the wake-up call to the Arab governments and peoples, and to the people of Israel itself, that enough is enough. When Israeli army snipers shot down youths from Gaza like rabbits, Jewish citizens of Israel around the world protested.

And while some Arab governments expressed concern, it was in Jordan that the people went to the streets and toppled its government. While economic grievances were its occasion, its undercurrent was dismay at events in the Palestinian territories. The combination of Israel’s Jerusalem adventure, the situation in Gaza and the West Bank and the hot-pot of Islamic and Zionist extremism constitute threats that have to be dealt with.

And so, this small, poor, but immensely important country, which is one of the two lynch-pins of American policies in the Middle East, faces a difficult question: Can any Arab government be at peace with Israel while the Israeli government is at war with the Palestinians?

Cecil Hourani

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