What say Israel?

ALL eyes quickly have shifted to Israel following Arab leaders’ unified reaffirmation of the 2002 Beirut Declaration, proposing to barter “normal relations” with “all Arab states” in return for “full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967”.

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 30 Mar 2007, 9:21 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:58 AM

Even though Israel dismissed the offer outright five years ago, recent realisation in Tel Aviv of “painful compromises” ahead indicates the Olmert dispensation is more willing to play serious ball than some of its less flexible predecessors.

The Saudi monarch rightly called it like it is, reminding Arab leaders how their inability to gather on a unified platform has contributed in no small manner to the region’s many problems, including continued Palestinian suffering. And while the summit took up matters from Iraq to Lebanon to Iran, it would fittingly the question of Palestine that dominated the discussion.

It is important to note that Israel can no longer afford to snap out the usual no-can-do response now that an amicable compromise has been offered. Already, decades of foot-dragging has left it with a tarnished international reputation which the West’s umbrella has largely shielded it from. But now with its protectors busy taking jibes of their own, and the region’s volatility leaving no stomach for continued Arab-Israeli rifts, Tel Aviv and Washington have no choice but to reciprocate with something concrete.

Undoubtedly, it is the matter of Palestinian refugees that is troubling Israel the most. Should they return, the prized Jewish majority would instantly become the stuff of history books. However, it is owing to exactly such questions that Olmert used the word “painful” to describe the “compromises”.

The first step must, however, be a prompt end to the West’s economic blockade of the Palestinians. It simply cannot be stressed enough that as oppressive as Israel’s occupation has been, the financial crunch is not far from delivering the final death blow to Palestinian society, which is reduced to its worst state of affairs in more than half a century.

In ways, the Arabs have redeemed themselves by taking arguably the most serious and legitimate stance yet on the region’s —and perhaps the Muslim world’s —biggest problem. If Israel dilly-dallys now, the next, more severe round of pressure should come from its tireless supporters in the West, lest whatever is left of their combined credibility is also compromised. So, what say Israel?

More news from