Thursday, October 16, 2003

Peace - here's hoping

If the latest peace initiative, the Geneva Accords, leads to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis then no-one should care if this is a poke in the eye for Sharon.

But if the Geneva Accord does lead somewhere then it will owe its success more to Sharon and Bush than the Left in NZ will want to admit.

My views on this conflict have been pretty much along the lines of Amos Oz (one of those involved in the Geneva Accords) - Israel should unilaterally withdraw to the 1967 boundaries and then fight the inevitable war for survival with a clean conscience. Its a point of view that entails the potential loss of untold lives.

Why "inevitable" you ask? Make no mistake, people like Oz are under no illusion about how deep the desire to destroy Israel is in the Arab world. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon was seen as an act of weakness and emboldened the extremists. The lesson is that returning Arab land may lead not to peace but more violence.

I have not been a supporter of Sharon but understand why 3 years ago Israeli voters voted him in and why such support has remained and indeed strengthened. 3 years ago the Oslo Accords, initiated by the Labour party, collapsed. There was indeed no one for the Israelis to negotiate with.

3 years ago Arafat abandoned negotiation with the Labour Party in favour of violence. What has brought Arafat back to the negotiating table? Why this change of heart when 3 years ago he ensured the rise to power of Sharon and the demise of the very people he has now been secretly negotiating with?

Two reasons.

First, Sharon's hard line made it very clear that violence cannot be substituted for negotiation.

Second, one of Arafat's main patrons, Saddam Hussein, now has considerably less influence thanks to George Bush. (And Syria and Iran are on notice to democratise or else).

If you don't go along with this, then ask yourself why is it that Arafat is now wanting a settlement that is basically the same as the one he rejected, at the cost of thousands of lives, 3 years ago?

Unconvinced? Then try this Ha'aretz article.

So all you Left socks, gloat if it makes you feel good but maybe give some considered thought to the issue as well.

Again, Ha'aretz leads the way.


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