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KT edit: Open minds for Mideast peace

Filed on February 2, 2020 | Last updated on February 2, 2020 at 08.16 pm

There could be disgruntlement, suspicion and, finally violence, which will erode and damage prospects for enduring peace.

The UAE's stance on direct negotiations to resolve the Palestine-Israeli conflict is consistent with its policy that only diplomatic solutions can end the occupation that has roiled the Middle East for more than seven decades. US President Donald Trump's peace plan that was unveiled last week should be seen in this context as a starting block, a spark of an idea. Outright rejection will only lead to more roadblocks. A stale is not in any party's interest. There could be disgruntlement, suspicion and, finally violence, which will erode and damage prospects for enduring peace.

Therefore, it is important to closely study the ideas put forth by the US and make changes where necessary. Of course, there are lacunae that need to be fixed. The issue of Israel settlements on Palestinian land and the status of Jerusalem which Israel has claimed for itself are sore sticking points, but these should not hold back talks between the two parties. There is nothing that direct negotiations cannot settle, provided both sides show some inclination to discuss it with open minds.

The Palestinian cause remains on top of the agenda of the UAE and other Arab countries. The meeting of Arab ministers in Cairo proves that countries in the region are keen on finding a solution that is acceptable to both the Palestinians and to Israel. The two sides cannot dwell on past animosities which will only make future negotiations distant, if not complex. There are trust issues that need be fixed as the Israel occupation has destroyed Palestinian lives and made them strangers in their own land. It has been a tragic story and it is the responsibility of the world community to find a permanent settlement to the problem.

The Trump peace plan provides is a spark to revive the moribund Middle East peace process, and the UAE has seen some potential in the US proposals which should be taken forward by the parties concerned. They must sit down for talks, and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash said it will 'support dialogue and direct negotiations'. An Arab backed diplomatic solution is possible if the Palestinian leadership led by President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli PM Netanyahu first open channel for communication, a hotline. Wider talks can happen in the next phase. Open and direct negotiations are the final stage. There is wisdom to be drawn from Gargash's words. Are Palestinian and Israeli leaders listening?

 



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