Preparing for peace?

THERE is weight in Palestinian Information Minister Riad Malki’s call for a six-month deadline to wrap up a deal with Israel after the US-sponsored Middle East peace conference likely in November.

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Published: Sat 6 Oct 2007, 8:45 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:01 AM

Already the conference is receiving a laid-back response, even from principal stakeholders like the Palestinian Authority itself, Saudi Arabia and of late, Syria. And unless America and Israel come round to adopting a concrete way to settling the matter once and for all, the interest is likely to remain elusive.

As pointed out by the minister, much of the ‘ground work’ has already been done, therefore such a timeframe might not be unrealistic. And with Washington itself looking for a Palestinian solution to serve as its legacy, after near complete erosion of credibility owing to its war-on-terror specific antics, it might just find it opportune to do a little arm-twisting when setting the agenda with Tel Aviv.

But Israel still wants the joint declaration to be presented to the conference ‘minute and non-specific’, betraying its usual foot-dragging designs. But with the government in Tel Aviv still rocking from scandal after scandal, especially since last summer’s skirmish with Hezbollah, the time may be right for the West to apply pressure long over due.

It would, however, be prudent not to ignore the entirety of the Gaza Strip while going about such a solution just for the sake of rubbishing Hamas. Any solution needs to be comprehensive, which will bring areas other than Israel and Palestine into its fold also, vindicating key players like Bashar Assad. It will be of little intrinsic value if critical elements are ignored just because the West has not been overcome its hardliner approach.

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