The rapid, almost hasty, developments on the Arab Israeli front, almost immediately following the Saudi sponsored Makkah Agreement on February 2, should be examined in their proper context, as a part and parcel of the regional shifts, exasperated by the US war in Iraq and the dramatic adjustment in Iranâ€™s position vis-Ã -vis the region and its sectarian, religious composition.
Two prevailing analyses have been offered; one that is skeptical, and argues that the Arab initiative, which will be articulated at a coming Arab league conference in Saudi Arabia on March 28, was brought back to the scene on the behest of the US administration: by engaging Hamas, Arabs will deny Iran the opportunity to further galvanize its regional alliances â€” Syria and Hezbollah â€” against the US and Israel, thus further cemented the Shia crescent, at the expense of the Sunni majority.
The other analysis is overtly optimistic, ranging between the view of Palestinian and Arab commentators talking of a â€˜historic opportunityâ€™ and Western commentators wondering if the league has finally taking charge of the Arab peopleâ€™s own destiny. “Worried by what they see as the Bush administrationâ€™s failings, and the new regional power of
The Arab peace initiative, offering a full normalization with Israel, in simultaneous exchange for an Israeli pull out to the pre-1967 border, was made public in a March 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut. It came at the height of the Palestinian uprising. The initiative was immediately rejected by the Israeli government and accepted by Arafat. Its release was a cause of a slight discomfort for
In the weeks preceding the official announcement of the Arab peace initiative,
The power of the lobby and the persisting influence of the neocons have reached new heights when Democratic leaders were obliged to strip from a military spending bill a requirement that the president must gain the approval from the Congress before moving against Iran. Pelosi and others agreed to such a removal “after conservative Democrats as well as other lawmakers worried about its possible impact on
With Iran being the unrivalled focus, coupled with serious worries amongst some Arab countries regarding Iranâ€™s rise and its possible destabilization impact on the region, Israel has agreed to a conditional exchange that would allow for an implicit arrangement: to â€˜contain Iran â€” to Israelâ€™s benefit â€” stabilize Iraq â€” to the Bush Administrationâ€™s benefit â€” and to introduce a new horizon of peace with the Palestinians â€” to the appeasement of the Arabs. Only the prospect of solving the
The new horizon of peace â€” a new term invoked by Condoleezza Rice in her recent visit to the region â€” is a term that corresponds to the â€˜peace processâ€™: significant enough insofar as it yield a sense of hope, but clever enough for it guarantees nothing, since Israel, brimming with its unprecedented clout in the corridors of power in Washington will neither give up its grand plans of territorial conversion (annexing the settlements), nor bring to a halt the construction of its encroaching wall nor surrender an inch from the illegally annexed East Jerusalem, all, predictably key Arab and Palestinian demands.
The Arab initiative seemed deliberately vague on the issue of Palestinians made refugee by Israel in 1948 and 1967, and whose plight is as urgent as ever (considering their systematic targeting in Iraq, 500 murdered to date, and Libyaâ€™s decision to deport its Palestinians refugees to Gaza, as thoughtless as this may sound.) Yet, to remove any ambiguity, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is “demanding that the leaders of the 22 Arab states excise the right of return from it,” reported Haaretz.
By crossing out the â€˜controversialâ€™ elements contained in the Arab initiative and then opening it up for negotiations, Palestinians â€” now browbeaten with a year of sanctions and near starvation in Gaza â€” will be taken on another peace goose chase, during which Israeli army bulldozers will hardly cease their determined colonial project. My fear is that Arabs will play a long, willingly or not, and Palestinians would be forced to partake in the charade, for their reliance on international handouts for their mere survival will make it impossible to defy the US-Israeli regional designs forever.
-Ramzy Baroud’s latest book: The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronology of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press,