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Enter Stage Gabbing
A false promise of peace
By Steven Martinovich
(April 1, 2002) - As Arab leaders met in Beirut on March 27, Hamas member Abdel Baset Odeh burst into the dining room of a hotel in the Israeli resort town of Netanya not far away and blew himself up as Israelis sat down for a Seder meal celebrating the Jewish Passover. The attack resulted in 19 Israelis killed with another 130 wounded -- women and children among them -- and tragically illustrated that the Saudi peace plan approved by the Arab leaders would solve nothing.
"This operation comes as a response to the crimes of the Zionist enemy, the assassination of innocents and as a message to the summit in Lebanon that our Palestinian people's option is resistance and resistance only," a Hamas statement said.
The Saudi plan calls for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights and the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. Israel's reward? Once it gave into the demands, the Arab states would "consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region (and) establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace."
On the face of it, the deal seems to solve several problems, which is why the United States has welcomed the proposal and although Israel has expressed reservations, an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon referred to it as "a very interesting development, something that should be pursued." Deeper thought, however, shows that it is at best a one-sided proposal which weakens the only true democracy in the Middle East -- a proposal that essentially demands the Jewish state fulfill the demands of its enemies before it even gets to talk to them.
While the land for peace aspect of the peace proposal seems to hold some promise -- despite its obvious failures in the past -- it holds nothing but traps for Israel. Under Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's plan, Israel is to give up territory -- crucial to its continued security -- that it captured in 1967 in a war instigated by Arab nations. The Arab nations lose nothing and are only withdrawing their use of force against Israel, essentially holding that nation hostage.
The deal also presumes to treat the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority as moral equals, a dubious proposition at best. Unlike the Israelis, however, the Palestinian Authority has harbored terrorists for years and the lands governed by Yasser Arafat have been used as staging grounds for terrorist attacks. Half-hearted crackdowns against extremists, it seems, only take place after the attack in Netanya.
There are clear differences between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The PA and Arafat depend on the continuing support of hard-line elements in the Palestinian community. By not acting forcefully against groups like Islamic Jihad and Hamas, they have tacitly given their approval for the terrorist attacks against civilians in Israel. The PA itself is an autocratic organization run by a man with an extensive Marxist past.
Israel, on the other hand, is a mature democratic and capitalist nation - the only one in the region - that generally respects the rights of its citizens. A moral nation, like Israel, which admittedly has some big faults, safeguards its citizen's rights. It has a right to its sovereignty, something that many in the Palestinian and wider Arab communities refuse to accept, and has the right to demand other nations respect that sovereignty. Logically, it has the right to defend its sovereignty.
As the Hamas statement after the Netanya attack illustrates, the Saudi peace plan strips Israel of that right and promises no assurance of a secure Israeli future. Agreeing to this proposal will be akin to waving a small scrap of paper in the air and proclaiming that the Jewish state will enjoy peace in our time.
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