By Najeeb Jung
Dec 05, 2012
THE blood of Abraham, God's father of the chosen, still flows in the veins of Arab, Jew, and Christian, and too much of it has been spilled in grasping for the inheritance of the revered patriarch in the Middle East. The spilled blood in the Holy Land still cries out to God— an anguished cry for peace” wrote Jimmy Carter in his seminal book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. On November 29, the General Assembly of the United Nations took an important step towards peace in the region by voting overwhelmingly to grant Observer status to Palestine.
The 138 positive votes against 9 negative votes show that the world is no longer willing to sit back and remain uninvolved in an increasingly vexed issue that is capable of disturbing world peace.
The region has indeed paid a heavy price over the past 50 years, not just in terms of the lives lost and the destroyed physical assets, but also the emotional fear and trauma that both Israelis and Palestinians have faced during this time.
Since 2000 itself nearly 7000 Palestinians and 200 Israelis have died fighting, and another 59575 Palestinians and 10792 Israelis have sustained injuries. In its attempt to control Arab lands, Israel has destroyed 24813 Palestinian homes, making the Arabs just not homeless, but making the region an incubator for terrorism that now so worries the world.
Despite unimaginable hardships the conflict has seemed endless. The ground situation, of course, has been laden with problems. Even as the Arabs refuse to accept Israel as a neighbour, Israel continues with its efforts to acquire more and more Arab land. Because of conflicts and dissensions within Palestinian leadership, Israel refuses to acknowledge and therefore negotiate with Palestinians; and the US has so far not come up with a truly credible initiative to pressurise the two sides to reach a solution.
In fact the truth is that Israel has got and continues to receive infinite political, financial and military assistance from the Americans that reduces US’ credibility just not in the Arab world but in the entire Muslim world. There have been reports that even in the past couple of years the US has provided $ 8.2 million per day in military aid to Israel against nothing to Palestine. The truth therefore is that the US has really not made a protracted effort to pursue peace based on international laws and the host of international agreements ratified by Israel.
In the past few years the region has become disproportionately dangerous.
On the one hand is the fact that Israel has a huge nuclear arsenal with capabilities of destroying any neighbour and hitting as far as Iran. This is obviously pushing Arab nations to acquire their own nuclear bombs.
Any military adventurism therefore can push the region towards a nuclear war and disturb global peace. The silver lining, however, is that the people in the region want peace efforts to succeed.
While the rhetoric and the demands of either side may seem harsh and unreasonable, it is reported that in private Arab leaders are keen on peace as are many Israeli citizens whose demand for moderation is not being adequately heard or appreciated. Unfortunately, even at a moment like this when Israel can seize the opportunity for peace initiatives, Israel has initiated steps to build homes in one of the most controversial areas ( E- I) where Jewish settlements have for long been seen as a death knell for a two state solution to the conflict.
This settlement will connect large settlements to Jerusalem. Simultaneously Israel has also announced the construction of 3000 additional homes in East Jerusalem and the West bank.
But the world must not let this historic opportunity go by. President Obama, now secure in his second term, must be reminded of his statement of May 2011 when he called for a Palestinian state based on borders that existed before the 1967 Middle Eastern War. There are three key issues that must be addressed: 1) The Palestinians must accept Israel’s right to exist.
2) Israel must accept the Palestinians’ right to live in peace and dignity as specified by international laws and; 3) Both Israel and Palestine must agree and assure each other that the blood of non- combatant men, women and children will no longer be shed nor such violence justified under the term ‘ collateral damage’. The key to peace remains with Israel and the extent to which the US will bring pressure on Israel. Obviously the US is also occupied with other regions and countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea and therefore cannot direct all efforts towards the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
The Arab countries too have their share of problems, with internal dissensions, conflicts within some of these countries, the movements towards democracy that threaten the very existence of some of these dictatorships and increased Islamic rhetoric and fundamentalism.
But the Arabs must realise and openly acknowledge the reality that is Israel, just as the Israelis must accept a Palestinian state in the small remaining portion of land allotted to the Palestinians by the United Nations. The Palestinians must be granted all human rights under international law including self- determination, right to democracy, safeguards to life and limb and sanctity of their property. It is this forward path that the international community must now explore.
Najeeb Jung is the Vice- Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia
Source: Mail Toddy