Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed a view that many objective observers share that “if the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-styloe struggle for equal voting rights(also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” This is the first time an Israel leader has made a link between the current situation as the South African apartheid struggle. In a sense, Olmert was confronting the alternative to a two-state solution– an Israel in which Muslims would outnumber Jews if they received the right to vote. Unfortunately, for the prime minister, polls indicate most Israelis were not reassured by the Annapolis conference. The liberal daily Haaretz poll showed only 17% thought Annapolis a success and 42% regarded it as a failure. A similar poll in Yedhiot Ahronot showed 50% felt Annapolis a failure and 83% did not expect positive results by the end of 2008.
Olmert’s honesty may come back to haunt him if negotiations collapse with President Abbas. At this point Prime Minister Olmert must make a dramatic announcement to jump start negotiations. It could be something as simple as ensuring Palestinians of equal access to water supplies or an immediate freeze on further West Bank settlements. Olmert might well ask Turkey to become a partner in discussions since it is among the few nations which has good relations both with Israel and Arab nations.
Leaders of Hamas threatened to escalate violence after the conclusion of this week’s Annapolis conference. They condemned Arab leaders for attending the meeting and, according to Same Abu Zuhi, they opened the door for “normalization with the occupation”(West Bank Settlements). Another Hamas official Abu Marzouk warned that “resistance in all its forms will escalate because Annapolis will expose the arbitrariness of the settlement track and its destructive endeavours.” Hamas officials also threatened to use more lethal rockets in bombing Israeli towns.
The reality of Annapolis is the weakness of both Olmert an Abbas to carry out any agreements. Olmert lacks political strength to make any dramatic peace moves while the authority of Abbas barely extends beyond certain areas of the West Bank. Abbas needs Hamas if he is to make an effective peace agreement that actually can be put into effect. If Hamas had been invited to Annapolis, its leaders would have been surrounded by Arab leaders who would not stand for rhetoric since they want and need stability in the Middle East. By allowing Hamas to stand on the outside looking in the opportunity to bring them inside was lost.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy, World News
Tagged Abbas, Annapolis, Hamas, Olmert
President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated the need for achieving resolution of key issues at the upcoming Annapolis meeting if violence is to be averted in the Middle East. He identified a serious difference between his position and that of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert — he wants a detailed agenda working toward specific goals while Olmert prefers a vaguer document without a definite timetable. Abbas fears the outbreak of further violence in the region unless issues dividing the two groups are addressed and resolved.
Veteran Palestinian lawmaker, Hanan Ashrawi gave a guest lecture at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in which she pleaded for dialogue between the opposing groups. She stated bluntly the need by Palestinians for achieving peace with Israel. ‘Violence and extreme ideology of Israel feeds violence and extremism on the other side. And that’s what led to the election of Hamas.” She said you can’t wait until “every single Palestinian becomes peaceful” but must engage in dialogue. One step might be for both sides to cease dwelling on past statements since enough expressions on the desire for violence can be found among Palestinians and Israelis. It’s time to focus on the future.
Posted in Emerging Issues in the World, Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy
Tagged Abbas, Annapolis conference, Israel, Olmert, Palestine, Peace