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Arabs commit, Israel subverts

Oct 30,2014 - Last updated at Oct 30,2014

Peacemaking between Arabs and Israelis started seriously for first time in the aftermath of the 1973 war, almost 40 years ago.

As a result of sincere efforts on both sides, and with active American involvement, important peace treaties were struck between Israel and two main Arab players in the region: Egypt in 1978 and Jordan in 1994.

The deal with the Palestinians, concluded behind the scenes in Oslo in 1993, was inconclusive, incomplete and highly problematic. It remains so today, 20 years later, precisely because of these shortcomings. 

Israel reached no peace deal with Lebanon or with Syria, two neighbours and major players, despite some attempts.

The Palestinian issue, the core of the conflict, not only remains unresolved, it is fast deteriorating and escalating dangerously, due to Israel’s unilateral, selfish and destructive practices.

Forty years after the start of peacemaking between Arabs and Israelis, at least two lessons have become clear.

One is that peace cannot be achieved piecemeal.

The deals with Egypt and Jordan were successful because the parties involved agreed upon all matters of mutual concern and abided by them.

For 36 years since the Camp David Accords and 20 years since the Wadi Araba agreement, Israel’s relations with Egypt and Jordan have been peaceful.

It may not be the expected “warm” peace, but it is peace nonetheless.

Stability in our region, as history has taught, is important.

Israel’s relations with Egypt and Jordan are firmly stable.

The problem is with Oslo.

Of course, the question of Palestine is more complicated than Sinai, occupied Jordanian territories, the Golan Heights and the border with Lebanon. However, the main problem with the Oslo Accords — which, unlike the Camp David Accords and the Wadi Araba deal, were negotiated and agreed upon secretly and hastily — is that several matters were left open, and many were delayed.

The other lesson is that peace happens only when the parties involved are sincere about it.

Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin (and even Ariel Sharon, to a degree) were tough Israeli leaders who had only Israel’s interest in mind when they struck peace deals with the Arabs.

But they were also able to understand two basic premises in human relations: Israel’s interest cannot be served by war, nor can it be served by ignoring the interests or rights of others.

The target of any negotiations is not to satisfy one party, but both. For these two reasons, peace happened and is maintained till this day in certain cases, but not in Palestine. 

The problem with the current Israeli government, headed and influenced by Benjamin Netanyahu and other hardliners, is that it simply lacks sincerity about peace. 

It is a government that favours war over peace, seeks to impose its vision on others, and does all it can to prevent peace from ever happening.

Netanyahu has ruled more than any of the Israeli leaders mentioned above, but, to date, he cannot be credited with anything in regard to peace, not even a symbolic initiative that he can call his. How can he, when his whole career has been built on deceit and subversion of peace?

For more than 40 years, the Arabs have committed themselves to the agreements they signed with Israel, honoured those agreements and contributed crucially to the security and stability that Israel enjoys today.

By contrast, the present Israeli government has made a mockery of the Oslo agreement and is intent upon depriving the Palestinians of even the small piece of land on which they hope to establish their state.

Today, Arabs, including Palestinians, commit to peace with Israel. Israel, under the current government, does nothing but subvert.

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