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Musa A Keilani: A threat to peace, stability
December 06, 2011
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King Abdullah II has raised Jordan’s diplomatic profile as a key country seeking a realistic solution to the Palestinian problem based on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people as enshrined in United Nations resolutions and international law. In his meetings with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Amman and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin last week, the king pointedly said that Israel’s continued settlement activity in the occupied territories, including Arab East Jerusalem, was a serious impediment to efforts to work out a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
 
He also underlined that regional stability and security depended on a fair and just solution to the Palestinian issue, leading to peaceful co-existence of Israel and a Palestinian state.

Israel declares itself as ready for negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions and rejects the Palestinian demand for a halt to its settlement activities in the occupied territories. How could Israel expect the Palestinians to enter negotiations even as it presses ahead with its push to Judaise the occupied territories, including Arab East Jerusalem, where they want to set up the capital of their aspired-for independent state?

This is a reality that the international community understands perfectly well, but it has failed to address it through practical action focusing on pressure on Israel to accept that international legitimacy must be the framework for its behaviour. Israel should be made to understand that its Jewishness — that of a people who have long been persecuted — does not offer it any exemption from the rules by which other countries live.

There is no longer any room for Israel’s contentions that it is threatened with extinction by the Arab World. Two Arab countries have already made peace with Israel and the Palestinians are ready to do so on the basis of their rights. The rest of the Arab World has also demonstrated the political will to make peace and normalise relations with Israel by offering the Arab peace initiative adopted by the 2002 Arab summit held in Beirut.

The initiative is unambiguous. It calls for “full Israeli withdrawal from all the 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.” It also calls for achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

However, Israel is not willing to do its part for making peace with the Arabs. It insists on its own terms for an agreement with the Palestinians in a posture that would not lead anywhere.

In the meantime, Israel is also rattling sabres against Lebanon’s Hizbollah movement, which seems to be more than glad and ready to engage in a new conflict with the Israelis. A new war in the region could have highly serious repercussions for everyone.

Israel should indeed be worried. It has lost Hosni Mubarak as an ally who could be depended upon to maintain Egypt’s state of peace with Israel and act as a bridge to the Arab World.

Signals from the Egyptian political scene indicate that the state of Egyptian-Israeli peace would only grow colder, given that the Muslim Brotherhood is expected to be the largest group in parliament through elections that began last week.

Israel has also lost Turkey, its strongest ally in the Muslim World, because of its high-handed action against a Turkish-led aid flotilla headed for the besieged Gaza Strip last year. Israel’s refusal to offer an apology to Turkey for the attack that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists prompted Ankara to sever diplomatic relations, deepening Israel’s isolation. Even if Israel were to succeed in restoring ties with Turkey at some point in the future, the two sides could not be expected to resurrect their “strategic relationship” that they maintained for decades because the Turks have now seen fully the real face of their one-time ally.

The Israeli political and military establishment should do a thorough and sincere soul-searching and understand that their woes are of their own making. Instead of doing that, they are plotting new wars, whether against Iran or Hizbollah. They seem to also think that engaging in military conflicts would not only consolidate Israel’s self-assumed role as the dominant regional power but also shift attention from its growing internal political and economic crises.

Israel could definitely do with a diversion that would also serve its “strategic objectives” such as eliminating what it perceives as an Iranian nuclear threat backed by Hizbollah.

And hence King Abdullah’s warning that the situation is untenable and a serious threat to regional stability. The Europeans are perfectly aware of the reasoning and wisdom behind the Jordanian warning. They cannot hope to insulate themselves against the impact of Middle East conflicts, now or in the future. They should get rid of the shackle around their neck placed by Israel and the US and act if only to protect their interests. The way to do that is to bring about an equitable solution to the Palestinian problem and the wider Arab-Israeli conflict.

The author a former jordanian ambassador, is the chief editor of  Al Urdun weekly in Amman.

 

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