A Glimpse of hope in the Middle East



An old Arab proverb says that if you want to solve a problem, make sure it becomes big enough. Indeed, both Sharon and Arafat made sure, during the past two years that the problem “is big enough”.

In (Real politic), it is unfortunate that history advances forward and upwards in a spiral way and not in a straight-line.

The graph line of history goes neither backwards nor downwards, if you take into consideration the resultants.

The variable factors in history induce a zigzagging effect of ups and downs but never induce a reverse or a down slope; the graph line keeps going upwards and forward.

So is the case in the Middle East. History never repeats itself. It moves ahead.

After two years of painful bloodshed in the holy land, action and reaction proved that the vicious ‘cycle of violence’ could lead nowhere but to disaster and catastrophe for both Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli occupation and reoccupation of Palestine led and will lead to more violence if it is not ended.

It had given pretexts and excuses for extremist Palestinians to carryout terrorist operations that target Israeli civilians in response to Israeli tank bombardments of Palestinian residential quarters, where hundreds of children and civilians have been killed. [22 Palestinian children have been killed since the beginning of the third year of Intifada, i.e. during the past one and a half month.]

This must stop, but how?

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon repeats that he will not deal with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and he will not embark on political negotiations until Palestinian terrorism stops.

President Arafat said and continues to say that cease-fire and PA control of Palestinian extremists necessitates that the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon end military attacks and assassinations and draw back his tanks and soldiers to the lines of 28 September 2000.

Both leaders are men of action. They have tried each other on several clashing occasions.

One of these bloody occasions was Sharon’s invasion of Lebanon and the siege of its capital Beirut, during which dozens of thousands of innocent civilians were killed.

After two years of painful human and material dramatic losses, both must reflect, review and think of the future of both peoples Israelis and Palestinians, the welfare of their nations and the establishment of peace which will lead to a serious stability, security and development on all levels.

Both sides must work out a meaningful and stable cease-fire (although no 100% calm is confirmed during the first stage).

Both must comply with U.N. resolutions and start working seriously to implement the American vision for peace in the Middle East as outlined by President George W. Bush.

This seems possible when taking into consideration what was declared by Sharon and Arafat yesterday.

Sharon publicly said on Israeli channel 2 Television that the establishment of a Palestinian State is an unavoidable de-facto. He said, as part of his elections campaign, that he endorses the Bush plan and will work for peace with the Palestinians.

Arafat reiterated almost the other side of the same peace formula. He called upon Israel to halt fire, withdraw and work for peace as well as stressed that he accepts the Bush plan for peace. He promised full Palestinian compliance with a cease-fire agreement.

Both leaders are on the eve of elections (actually almost at the same time). If both win the elections, they must learn from the lessons of the past two years.

Violence begets only violence. Therefore, old grudges must be put aside in order to look ahead and move forward to establish peace.

Cease-fire, military withdrawal, elections, and the resumption of political negotiations are the steps to be followed to ensure that George W. Bush’s vision of a two-state solution is realized.

Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to Yasser Arafat.