Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Time to get serious on the Palestinian issue

Whilst the outcome of the Lebanon War II continues to be discussed in Israel, the Palestinian issue for the moment seems on the backburner. There is little discussion about Gilad Shalit, the soldier originally abducted to Gaza about two months ago. Whilst Peretz and Dichter have suggested discussions with Assad in Syria, no one has suggested a meeting with Abu Mazen. Olmert has indicated that his 'convergence plan' will be delayed in light of the war in the north.

So where does this leave Israel vis a vis the Palestinians. A small opening does exist to reopen discussions with the Pal. The Palestinian leadership are currently trying to work out a power sharing arrangement between Fatah and Hamas. The withdrawal of funds from the int. community are hitting them hard and the realisation that the status quo can not continue is no doubt motivating them into such an arrangement.

Israel must reengage on this issue. They cannot continue with the tried and failed policies of the last six years. It must stop arresting Hamas parliamentarians as if that's going to achieve anything. If anything it needs to release the Hamas parliamentarians currently held by authorities and it wouldn't hurt to release some additonal prisoners on the side. Above all, it must engage with this issue seriously. The Lebanon war and its aftermath can not serve as an excuse.

Convergence is shelved and I don't have a problem with that. As I have blogged before, if convergence simply meant unilaterally withdrawing without dealing with the thorny key issues of Jerusalem, settlements, final borders and refugees its not going to achieve the desired result. Its an exercise in conflict management, not conflict resolution.

Israel may be tempted after Lebanon War II to give up withdrawals from the West Bank having seen the negative impact it had in Lebanon and Gaza. Such a conclusion is exactly what the Israeli right wants you to reach who when all said and done don't want to give up land regardless of the situation. The alternative approach and the correct one is to recognise the silliness of a purely unilateral approach and go with the obvious solution: negotiations.

As in any conflict, there are not several solutions to resolve the conflict. In Israel's case - serious negotiations with the Palestinians with Abu Mazen in charge is the only sensible paradigm to follow.


Post a Comment

<< Home