Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Arab-Israeli Conflict - opinion

from Bugme Diavolo, SLLU activist.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is at a crucial turning point, this is accompanied by a change in strategy, which appears to have occurred on the Israeli side, as manifest recently in the current events in Gaza. A collective strategy of Arab states was more or less in place after the Second World War, and into the Cold War era, however, it seems to have reached a standstill or some claim it does not even exist.
A collective strategy that serves to 'contain' Israel wherein Arab states on the perimeter, and a further outer ring of nations serve as a band was a strategy implemented, if indirectly, since 1948, however, it is apparent that such a ploy cannot be executed today; certain countries have reached normalization with Israel, moreover, from a weak standing, and the IDF's reach extends beyond Israeli borders. The United States' relation to Israel has been outlined in a previous post-albeit partially- however, it is important for any discussion regarding the ongoing conflict. The significance of energy and petroleum in the region is paramount, however, the interest now resolves around the middle eastern and eastern parts of Asia, therefore, going beyond the limits posed by the geography is of strategic significance. In a report that dates back to 1996 titled 'A Clean Break', which calls for Israel to 'rejuvenate its national idea 'and this by 'replacing Israel’s socialist foundations with a more sound footing', because 'no amount of weapons or victories will grant Israel the peace its seeks', but rather 'when Israel is on a sound economic footing, and is free, powerful, and healthy internally, it will no longer simply manage the Arab-Israeli conflict; it will transcend it.' More practically, the report acknowledges the need to/for:
- '....removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq'
- '...weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria'.
- 'peace through strength'.
- 're-establishing the principle of pre-emption'

As it regards the Palestinian conflict, the implications of the call to 'transcend' it altogether, are manifest in the recent strife in Gaza and the ongoing meetings between the representatives of the PLO and Israel's foreign minister. These events are demonstrations of a policy which aims at establishing a status quo which is executed unilaterally, a demonstration of this is provided in the 2005 Disengagement Plan implemented by former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and in which eight thousand settlers were evacuated with no bilateral negotiations or arrangements reached. Furthermore, the ongoing talks which were initiated in Annapolis, are not truly negotiations since practically none of the core issues(borders, security arrangements, refugees), have been 'put on the table', meaning they have not even been discussed as Israeli negotiators admit, moreover, Israeli grip on the West Bank has increased. The recent conflict in Gaza also follows the guidelines of the unilateral approach, also what is worthy of attention is invoking NATO into the memorandum of agreement signed by US secretary of state and Israeli foreign minister and the arrival of European leaders to the region, which makes the prospect of a resolution which includes the Palestinian or Arab side even dimmer. Another nascent trend is one undermining the notion of a two-state solution, a demonstration of which is a report for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy which proposes two alternative solutions to the conflict arguing that the parameters for achieving the two-state solution are even less attainable. A further trend is the declining support for a two state solution by the Israeli public, a majority of which supported the idea in the year of 1997(less than a third of the Jewish population supports such a resolution).

Protesting against inhumane or unethical acts of violence cannot rely solely on transitory events or what they invoke, neither should it obscure the broader and complex context, and raising awareness should go beyond stating plain facts that elude people's attention due to the nature of the media, to elucidate the regional developments taking place. These considerations are indeed valid, but even more due to the changing circumstances in the region.

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