The Current Discussion: With the Israeli re-invasion of Gaza, it's clear that the "Annapolis Peace Process" is collapsing. Does it matter? Who's to blame?
The events in Gaza represent all that is going wrong with the way the “peace process” is being handled. Hamas feels frustrated having won an election fair and square (so much for wanting more elections in this climate) and resorted to force to take over the Gaza strip. As much as one puts the blame on Hamas, which is not ill-deserved, one must also blame those who have said they will not deal in a political process with Hamas. If the argument is that since Hamas is hell-bent on destroying Israel and hence, is not dealing with Israel, then let us not forget the PLO charter that stated the same and how they are today bedfellows in a faulted peace process.
In my recent book, I argued that the region expects fairness from the U.S. and the U.N., which implies that Israel should receive the same condemnations a rocket-launching Hamas or suicide bomber would receive. Both extremes, whether they be the overkill of Israeli forces or the madness of suicide bombers, are wrong. One can either sit and try to analyze who fired the first shot, or as sensible humans we can ask both sides to disengage, accept that Hamas has a political mandate, and deal with them, the PLO and the Israelis on ONE platform for peace. It would be totally unwise to even think that a peace process that ignores the chosen party of the electorate of Palestine can be a workable peace.
Part of the problem of Palestine is that it is not a political state. It’s a promised state and in this situation, movements and emotions rather than a government will rule them. Give them full statehood, allow them to choose their own government and then offer a peace plan that is workable. Hamas must renounce violence and Israel must start behaving as a country that truly wants peace. Shooting rock-throwing kids with tanks is like going to a rabbit hunt with a bazooka! The way Israel handled the blockade of Gaza and the subsequent air and tank attacks is really creating more militants, and if Israel thinks this will help the peace process, it is sadly mistaken.
Those who will attack my line of thinking should be clear that I denounce violence, no matter who carries out the violent act. Self-defense and decimation of civilians are two different things and until we acknowledge that both sides are to blame, this so-called peace process will go nowhere. Images of Israeli tanks and missiles attacking residential buildings in Gaza are as horrifying as seeing Hamas rocket attacks killing Israeli civilians.
Addressing the underlying cause of this problem is a just solution for both sides, whether it’s the Annapolis peace accord or accepting the proposal the Saudis made in 2001 for accepting Israel in return for statehood for Palestine and the promise for stopping further settlements is the key. Both sides are getting tired of this battle and it seems as though the most violent will win, whether it’s the hard right-wing in Israel or the intolerant Hamas. If asked if it matters, my response would be, yes, it does -- because the way the Palestine issue is settled is the litmus test of U.S. and Israeli fairness in the Arab eyes.
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