Middle-East Grievance

With another anniversary of the terrible 9/11 tragedy coming our way, it is time to once again reflect on the larger political issue that cries for the world’s attention. And after a long layoff from the Middle East, the United States has finally done the right thing by taking the lead in its attempt to unravel the problems in the volatile region. President George W Bush should in fact have never left the Middle East peace process to slumber. In that sense, Bush for years got his priorities wrong, because he has clearly failed to see that if the root cause to the Middle East problem was to be unearthed, it was to be found in the Palestinian issue, not the War on Terror, Iraq, or the need for American intervention to save Arab democracy. It has taken almost six years for Bush to realize his flawed policies and the new initiative of his is admission enough that Iraq or for that matter Saddam Hussein was not the only pivotal matter in the Middle East.

However, even if one was to welcome Bush’s initiative as a last-ditch effort to salvage America’s position in a region, the US administration should stay clear of playing a cat and mouse game or taking sides in the conflicting situation. For instance, President Bush should not try and isolate the Hamas but work with all legitimate political groups to find a sustainable solution. Even if it is his personal judgement to dislike the Hamas, President Bush should first see the point of the fact that the Hamas has won a democratic election in Gaza by defeating the US backed Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

And it is for such reasons alone that expectations are low for the Middle East peace conference called by President Bush. One of the primary concerns is on how fair and objective the US can remain during the entire process. There is going to be many players in the Middle East peace process and how successfully the US will be able to carry everyone will determine the outcome of the peace initiative. It is also of outmost importance for the peace process to start working on a viable framework for the creation of a Palestinian state side by side with Palestinian reforms and reconciling the varied political interest within the Palestinian movement.  

As for the underlying basis for a settlement, the land for peace formulae still remains the only viable route. For Israeli and Palestinians though, the big challenge is to not allow extremists on either side to derail the land for peace agreement based on a two state solution which is the only sensible policy in solving their conflict. The ink on the historic Oslo Accord signed in 1993 may have dried up but the principles underlying the agreement made between Nobel Peace laureates Yitztak Rabin and Yasser Arafat still stand. The present Israeli and Palestinian leadership must use this present opportunity for a peace deal that does justice to the Palestinian cause while addressing the security concerns of Israel. The US and other partners from the ‘Quartet’ must continue to encourage both sides to work towards a peaceful resolution on all issues.