Over eight years have passed since the 1993 “Declaration of Principles” was signed. Still, the Arab-Israeli relations are plagued by issues of human justice, for the Palestinians, and perception of national security, by Israel.
One cannot help wondering what road the Israelis are going to take: the road of peace or the road of human catastrophe.
Today, as a result of Israel’s occupation policies, more than 1,000 Palestinians were killed, a third of them children; 27,000 trees were uprooted; 12,000 dunums of land were levelled in the Gaza Strip; 3,200 buildings, of which 1,200 were houses, were destroyed; and 23,000 Palestinians were wounded. In addition, a large number of innocent Israelis were killed and injured. The killings, unfortunately, do not seem to be stopping here. The situation is getting out of control.
Humanity should feel responsible for seeking a fair and just solution to this horrible conflict, for both Palestinians and Israelis.
The core issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict are the Israeli occupation of the Arab lands, a Palestinian sovereign state, Israel’s security and Arab recognition, the future status of the city of Jerusalem, and the return of the Palestinian refugees.
Hardline Israelis’ view of a “Greater Israel” fuels the fire. They seem to ignore reality, facts, basic human mores, principles of human relations and international law. The Israelis initiate their policies based on short vision, on full confidence in the their military force and American military backing and economic support. Israeli strategists seem to underestimate the more important factor in this conflict equation: the Palestinian people’s power, now and in the future, in an age of technology and freedom, where one man (example, Osama Ben Laden), and one group of fanatics can defy the whole world’s military might and generate tremendous damage and destruction to the entire world economy and security. This is the age of sophisticated technology (mass destruction tools), where quality and scientific human mind knows how it can defeat and challenge numbers, sizes and cause huge damages. This is not the age where a more powerful army goes to defeat the enemy and declares a victory for domination and control. This is not a World War II scenario.
Israel’s strategists don’t infer the fact that their brutal policies for maintaining, by force, the occupation of Palestinian lands is making the problem more difficult and perplex to solve. Their policies and stubbornness to control and continue occupation is threatening their own national security and survival. It was said wisely that “the ignorant is his own enemy.”
The Israelis have to understand that the occupation must end. History has taught that foreign occupation is the natural cause of underground resistance movements fighting for freedom and independence. Resisting occupation might automatically lead to terrorism and human violence, in an attempt to disturb the security and the interest of the occupying force by terrifying and creating panic, to force the occupier to withdraw from their national boundaries. Terrorism is the worse form of resisting occupation. It is the tool of the despaired weak in the equation of power.
However, humanely, terrorism is an unacceptable human behaviour. It is a criminal act. Killing innocent civilians is not justified by any cause or policy. Terrorism is the by-product of people’s frustration, despair and anger. And occupation is the generator of terrorism. The unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict (the Israeli occupation) is the main source of Middle East terror.
Resisting occupation is a legitimate right. It is a natural reaction to injustice, foreign intervention, military domination and the exploitation and control of others’ natural resources (example, American liberation war against British colonialism). Resistance to occupation should be directed mainly towards harming military installations and occupying forces. By no means should it victimise innocent civilians. Religious fundamentalists and fanatics (both Israelis and Palestinians) are enemies of peace and civilisation. Criminals (both Israelis and Palestinians) should be brought to justice. There is a huge distinction between a freedom fighter resisting occupation and a sick-minded terrorist killing innocent civilians to promote his cause or defend the myth of his expansionist and racist beliefs.
Israel makes things worse by ostensibly forgetting or ignoring the fact that it is the occupying force. However, Israeli strategists should urgently answer the vital questions of how long Israel can maintain and continue its occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands and how long they can hide behind American military support, economic generosity and political backing.
Israel’s peace-loving people, looking for their own survival, have to understand that the only hope of a lasting peace has to be built on a solid human bridge of meaningful negotiations. The timetable for Israel’s complete withdrawal and dismantling of all the Jewish settlements in occupied Palestine 1967 borders is to be considered. Palestinians already have conceded 78 per cent of their country. They are not going to concede parts of the remaining 22 per cent.
As long as there is occupation, there is resistance to occupation. And as long as there is resistance, there will be terrorist acts. The blood-shedding cycle will continue until the Israelis realise the fact that the Palestinians are people too and they are entitled to freedom and statehood, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
President George W. Bush should vigorously follow up on his recent statements supporting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The president’s personal interference is the spark plug to generate the power of a hopeful future. He needs the peace-loving peoples’ support to confront the enemies of peace wherever they are and whoever they might be.
With determination, peace will prevail and the enemies of peace will disappear. Justice is the road to peace. Justice is the foundation of peace and peace is the backbone of security, stability, and human prosperity.
The writer is a senior consultant on international affairs, national security, strategic studies and American Federal Government. He is the executive director of the Middle East Consultations and Research Analysis( MECRA ) as well as an adjunct professor of international affairs, Politics and International Law.