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Hope for the Middle East

Friday, 27 June 2003 12:00 AM

Take, for example, the enmity between India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslim), Greek Cyprus (Christian) and Turkish Cyprus (Muslim), Rwanda’s Tutsi and Hutu, Bosnia’s Muslims, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, and Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants.

No road map has yet succeeded in resolving these bitter and longstanding ethnic and religious hatreds. However, with the passage of time, even longstanding tensions can be considerably eased.

I believe that we are on the edge of a breakthrough that will greatly relieve tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Two grizzled warriors devoted to their people – Ariel Sharon, prime minister of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, prime minister of the would-be state of Palestine – have the strength and vision to resolve the issues confronting their people.

Each knows that he is physically in danger of assassination. In 1951, King Abdullah I of Jordan, great-grandfather of the current king, was killed by an Arab zealot because he was negotiating with the hated Jews.

In 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was killed by a Jewish zealot because he was negotiating with the hated Arabs.

Anwar Sadat was killed in 1981 by Muslim extremists because he made peace with Israel.

I am convinced that while these two leaders do not seek martyrdom, they are prepared to assume considerable risks for peace. Abbas showed this when he declared the Intifada a failure and said it has been more costly to the Palestinians than to the Israelis and therefore should end.

Ariel Sharon evidenced similar courage when he said Israel cannot continue to rule through occupation 3 million Palestinians, and that it was wrong and bad for the Israelis to be in that position.

Palestinians are now looking to Abbas to provide a peace dividend in the nature of tangible improvements in their quality of life. Israelis for their part are demanding visibly enhanced security from Sharon. The road map requires that both expectations be satisfied simultaneously.

In order for Abbas to enhance security for Israelis, he must end the use of terror by organizations like Hamas, which see violence as a means of winning concessions from the Israelis. If they won’t end their campaign voluntarily, then Abbas must use force to compel them to do so and, if necessary, Israel should provide him with the arms he needs.

Sharon is obligated under the road map to immediately remove more than 60 settlements built on the West Bank and in Gaza since March 2001, and he must be prepared to use force to accomplish that requirement if the settlers resist.

We recently saw on television scuffles between settlers and Israeli soldiers seeking to remove settlements on the West Bank. The Israel Defense Forces went in without any arms and 30 soldiers were reported to have been injured.

Both Abbas and Sharon cringe at the thought of using guns against their respective Arab and Jewish brethren. Yet both must be willing to commit to using force of arms if necessary to accomplish the ends each has agreed to, if there is no alternative available. Sharon should commit to "freezing all settlement activity," including so-called natural growth, during negotiations.

Each should state their willingness to employ force, and it should be done in a joint public statement. Each must demonstrate he is willing to take on the fanatics – Muslim and Jew – in their midst.

If a majority in each nation is unwilling to accept the need to go down this path and unwilling to support their prime minister stating his resolve to do so, they and the world should know that the road map will lead nowhere.

Both sides should look to Northern Ireland on the ultimate release of prisoners, including murderers on both sides, and provide amnesty for all. Israeli’s targeted assassinations should be ended, provided the Palestinian Authority keeps to its commitment to act quickly and forcefully – a 100 percent effort – to prevent new acts of terrorism.

If the terrorist organizations and their leaders accept these conditions, they should be permitted to participate in the interim and future government of the Palestinian state. Menachem Begin, once leader of the terrorist organization Irgun, and Yitzhak Shamir, once leader of the terrorist organization Stern Gang, later became prime ministers of Israel.

When an agreement disposing of all issues and ending all claims by one nation and its citizens against the other is agreed to, that peace treaty should be submitted to and ratified by a general vote of each state’s electorate. That is essential to prevent either side from later claiming that their leaders sold them out.

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Take, for example, the enmity between India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslim), Greek Cyprus (Christian) and Turkish Cyprus (Muslim), Rwanda's Tutsi and Hutu, Bosnia's Muslims, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, and Northern Ireland's Catholics and Protestants. No road map has yet...
Friday, 27 June 2003 12:00 AM
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