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What did you do today, to promote peace?
New Initiatives:
Is the tide turning?

A Jordan Times Editorial

Iraq Tragedy - serious and constructive diplomacy needed

AMMAN - As the casualties continue to mount in Iraq, regional and international powers might just be proving themselves big enough to set aside their differences and attend to the tragedy that is Iraq with serious and constructive diplomacy.

After the U.S. last week announced it would take part in a conference organised by the Iraqi government to stabilise the country, Tehran too has made positive noises regarding the meeting and said that it will attend if it aids Iraq.

Syria, another country in Washington’s "axis of evil," has already agreed to attend.

If, as is believed, Iran does decide to attend, even at the sub-ministerial level, there is the beginning of hope.

It has long been orthodoxy among Middle East observers that stability in Iraq can only come about in the context of a comprehensive regional solution and with comprehensive regional support. Washington's opposition to such multilateralism was always counterintuitive and the fact that it has continued so long inexplicable.

The entire region is in real danger of collapse. From Palestine to Iraq, the pressures are growing along with the number of fatalities.

A number of significant regional initiatives, however, have been proposed and are gaining traction. For Palestine, there is the Arab Peace Initiative, which is expected to be refined at the Arab League summit later this month. It is a plan that envisages applying international law to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and to offer Israel Arab recognition in return, and it makes perfect sense.

The country behind the original draft of that initiative, Saudi Arabia, is also taking proactive steps regarding another potential flashpoint.

Saudi King Abdullah hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a bid to, at least outside Iraq, reduce the shameful Sunni-Shiite rifts that have recently appeared across the region. Should these two main regional power brokers set aside their differences and agree to coordinate strategies in the region, they would constitute a formidable force.

The West, meanwhile, needs a longer period of readjustment for diplomacy to be allowed a chance. The U.S. has been beefing up its military presence in the Gulf, but must be dissuaded from acting aggressively.

Western powers seeking sanctions on Iran for its nuclear enrichment programme would also do well to delay any agreement for a while. It might provide the breathing space needed for Iran to feel secure enough to play the diplomatic game.

Finally, the Quartet countries of Middle East mediators need to take a long, hard second look at the Palestinian unity government agreement reached in Mecca and then announce an end to the unjust sanctions against the Palestinian Authority.

Unflinching diplomacy can yet prevail, and with the apparent rise in stock of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the expense of Vice President Dick Cheney, the tide might be turning away from naked militarism.

Source: The Jordan Times, 4 March 2007, www.jordantimes.com

Rabbi Michael Melchior from Jerusalem to the heart of Hebron:
Islam of a different kind

I went to Hebron to express condolences to the family of the Hebron sheik, Talal Sider, who in the past few years was a senior and full partner to the attempts to persuade the leaders of the three faiths to turn religion into a lever for peace, brotherhood and hope...

Getting worser and worser:
Saving the Palestinian economy
4 million residents of the West Bank and Gaza have over the past year been devastated by continued lack of life's basic needs and an unprecedented rise in the level of internal lawlessness and anarchy...

Why not investigate opportunities, too?

A huge number of commissions of inquiry has been established. Clearly the crowded line-up is a humiliating reminder of how far this country has slipped into disarray...

Gespräche zwischen Jerusalem und Riad:
Accept the Saudi Initiative

Four years after it was first presented, the Arab Peace Initiative is finally coming to centre stage...

Common Ground News Service promotes constructive perspectives and dialogue about current Middle East issues.

hagalil.com 14-03-2007



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