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Peace conference: beginning of hope or fresh catastrophe?


Seen through the right glasses, it may look as though there is an opportunity for peace once again between Israelis and Palestinians.

The threat of Iranian hegemony, the U.S. failure in Iraq, and the collapse of Fatah and rise of the Hamas in Gaza, have all hurt forces of moderation and reason, but they stirred something. The weak Olmert government is likewise threatened by right wing opponents. But these unfortunate events just might yield a tiny ray of hope in the Middle East. They have finally forced all the different parties who might be interested in peace to at least sound like they mean business this time, and to take somewhat less unrealistic stands than in the past.

The Middle East peace conference organized by the United States might well end in nothing - or worse than nothing. Success depends on many factors that must all be favorable at the same time.

Israel has to be ready to make real concessions for peace, and to support really moderate Palestinians. The Palestinians must be willing to accept a realistic peace plan, rather than insisting on right of return for refugees and total Palestinian sovereignty in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Palestinians must also be ready, willing and able to enforce the peace, and to govern effectively. If Palestinian government is not honest and efficient, and cannot provide for its people, they will not be power for long, and any promises they make about peace will vanish with them. The Arab states must be ready to give their full backing to whatever program is adopted. Without the support of the Arab world, no peace plan can succeed. This support must be more than lip service. It must at least include barring support for extremist organizations and helping in the solution of the refugee problem.

The United States must be ready to pay for a lot of the peace: creating an economic future for the Palestinians and resettling refugees. However, the most important role of the United States must be to get all the other parties to agree. This is not a minor problem, yet nobody seems to have given much thought to it.

 All the parties must be aware that the opposition, in the form of Syria, Iran and their satellite terror groups Hezbulla, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, will all be working overtime to ensure that the peace conference is a failure. They may in fact have to do nothing at all except sit back and watch the fun, or they may step in and create some some distractions in the form of minor wars or suicide bombings.

If the peace conference turns into an empty show or a disaster like the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks of 2000, it will be much worse than worthless. If the United States has not done the proper groundwork for this conference, then it is criminal negligence to convene it. The collapse of this conference might be the final ruination both of the peace process and of the role of the United States in the Middle East.

Ami Isseroff

A version of this article was published at Peacewatch: Peace Conference

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000610.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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