International Herald Tribune <http://www.iht.com>
Reiterating the keys to peace
The Boston Globe
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
My book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" was published last month,
expressing my assessment of circumstances in the occupied territories
and prescribing a course of action that offers a path to permanent peace
for Israel and its neighbors. My knowledge of the subject is based on
visits to the area during the past 33 years, my detailed study and
involvement in peace talks as president, and my leadership role in
monitoring the Palestinian elections of 1996, 2005 and 2006.
Some major points in the book are:
Multiple deaths of innocent civilians have occurred on both sides, and
this violence and all terrorism must cease.
For 39 years, Israel has occupied Palestinian land, and has confiscated
and colonized hundreds of choice sites.
Often excluded from their former homes, land and places of worship,
protesting Palestinians have been severely dominated and oppressed.
There is forced segregation between Israeli settlers and Palestine's
citizens, with a complex pass system required for Arabs to traverse
Israel's multiple checkpoints.
An enormous wall snakes through populated areas of what is left of the
West Bank, constructed on wide swaths of bulldozed trees and property of
Arab families, obviously designed to acquire more territory and to
protect the Israeli colonies already built. (Hamas declared a unilateral
cease-fire in August 2004 as its candidates sought local and then
national offices, which they claim is the reason for reductions in
casualties to Israeli citizens.)
Combined with this wall, Israeli control of the Jordan River Valley will
completely enclose Palestinians in their shrunken and divided territory.
Gaza is surrounded by a similar barrier with only two openings,
controlled by Israel. Crowded citizens have no free access to the
outside world by air, sea, or land.
The Palestinian people are now being deprived of the necessities of life
by economic restrictions imposed on them by Israel and the United States
because 42 percent voted for Hamas candidates in this year's election.
Teachers, nurses, policemen, firemen, and other employees cannot be
paid, and the UN has reported food supplies in Gaza equivalent to those
among the poorest families in sub-Sahara Africa, with half the families
surviving on one meal a day.
Mahmoud Abbas, first as prime minister and now as president of the
Palestinian National Authority and leader of the PLO, has sought to
negotiate with Israel for almost six years, without success. Hamas
leaders support such negotiations, promising to accept the results if
approved by a Palestinian referendum.
UN resolutions, the Camp David accords of 1978, the Oslo agreement of
1993, official U.S. policy and the international road map for peace are
all based on the premise that Israel withdraw from occupied territories.
Also, Palestinians must accept the same commitment made by the 23 Arab
nations in 2002: to recognize Israel's right to live in peace within its
legal borders. These are the two keys to peace.
Not surprisingly, these points have rarely if ever been mentioned by
detractors of the book, much less denied or refuted. Instead, there has
been a pattern of ad hominem statements, alleging that I am a liar,
plagiarist, anti-Semite, racist, bigot, ignorant, etc. There are
frequent denunciations of fabricated "straw man" accusations: that I
have claimed that apartheid exists within Israel; that the system of
apartheid in Palestine is based on racism; and that Jews control the
American news media.
As recommended by the Hamilton-Baker report, renewed negotiations
between Israel and the Palestinians are a prime factor in promoting
peace in the region. The report also recommended peace talks with Syria
concerning the Golan Heights. Both recommendations have been rejected by
Israel's prime minister.
It is practically impossible for bitter antagonists to arrange a time,
place, agenda and procedures that are mutually acceptable, so an outside
instigator or promoter is necessary. Successful peace talks were
orchestrated by the United States in 1978-79 and by Norway in 1993. If
the American government is reluctant to assume such a unilateral
responsibility, then an alternative is the international quartet of the
United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union — still
with U.S. leadership.
An overwhelming majority of citizens of Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt
and Palestine want peace, with justice for all who live in the Holy
Land. It will be a shame if the world community fails to help them reach