Road to peace

SO JIMMY Carter was proved right where the Israeli establishment was proved wrong — the road to peace in Palestine does lie through negotiations. Hamas stands ready to accept the Palestinian people’s verdict on the two-state solution provided pre-’67 war boundaries are honoured.

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Published: Wed 23 Apr 2008, 9:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:54 PM

Israel will no doubt point to Hamas’ refusal to accept a unilateral ceasefire and the question of officially recognising the Jewish state, but it needs appreciating that Carter’s efforts mean Hamas will no longer undermine Abbas’ efforts at negotiating the final solution with the US and Israel.

It is significant that Hamas is willing to accept a people’s referendum even if the final result is at odds with the organisation’s own working philosophy of not conceding on the recognition issue, a point that the West has associated as part and parcel of the final solution. Despite the logjam of late, and Palestinian organisations’ internal power tussles, the offer betrays democratic practice that catapulted Hamas to the top of the Palestinian power structure in the Jan ’06 general election. It continues to be a miscarriage of justice that instead of welcoming democratic nuances in the Middle East, the West chose to come down hard on Hamas and extended the Palestinian people the most unfair punishment instead.

Being associated with the Middle East crisis and attempts at its solutions since his days in the House, Carter comes across as a straight talking practitioner who realises the importance of Washington’s latest thrust and George Bush’s attempts to breathe life in the peace process before his time in Washington is over. It is now time for the state department to follow up the good work with a charged blow of its own, leaning on Israel to respect peace moves and finally come round to a solution. So far, Israel’s best commitment to peace has been empty rhetoric, as amply displayed immediately after Annapolis. No sooner than Bush and Co resumed normal business had Olmert decided to press ahead with expanding settlements he had promised to halt as part of the peace plan.

To his discredit, Olmert remains without a feather in his cap. Lacking military experience most Israeli heads of state have prided their leadership qualities for, he came on the promise of being quick on the draw when it came to Israel’s present security and future ambitions. But with continuous falling out within his cabinet, not helped by the summer of ‘06’s shameful embarrassment at the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon, he remains a statesman without much to celebrate. Perhaps the realisation can still dawn on him that in respecting overwhelming international opinion, not to mention the most basic demands of civility, he can do the Middle East the greatest service yet by promising to come clean and pledging to support the peace process. The costs involved in letting the present wave of initiative go begging are catastrophic. There will be no stopping the bloodletting that will follow if this window of peace also closes without letting some sunshine in.

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