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Middle East Roundtable / Edition 4 Volume 1

A Palestinian View:
Winograd report serves the "peace-makers"

by Khader Khader

No Palestinian really believed that a new opportunity for the peace process was actually emerging in the past few months after the reactivation of the Arab peace initiative. Palestinians have become experienced in Israeli-American tactics to give the impression that efforts are being exerted for the sake of the peace process while at the same time facts on the ground lead nowhere.

Wishful thinking, on the other hand, pushed some to believe that since the Palestinians agreed on a national unity program and government--which represents more than 95 percent of the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories and which called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders along with a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN General Assembly Resolution 194--and given the Arab countries' move to re-launch the Arab peace initiative and provide political support to the Palestinian people in their quest for peace, a real opportunity emerged for the Palestinians and Arabs to attack Israel with a peace offensive that could have gained the approval of the international community.

However, and amid the "cautious" international euphoria, the Winograd interim report came out to smash all dreams and bring Palestinians back to reality. The content of the report and the severe criticism launched against the main political players in the Israeli government means that Israel is no longer in a position to allow it to deal with any peace process with the Palestinians for some time in the future even if Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stated on many occasions that he is ready at any moment to meet with "moderate" Arab leaders in public to discuss the Arab peace initiative.

Apart from its immediate impact on the political system in Israel and with the growing possibilities for early elections, the Winograd report thus came also to serve several parties involved in the Middle East peace process.

Taking into consideration the weak and "fragile" political position of the current Israeli government, the United States can feel relieved of any potential pressure exerted by the Palestinians or Arabs to push toward Palestinian-Israeli final status negotiations. In fact, the most recent US document on mutual measures and timetables between Israel and the PA is a clear proof of the American position. The United States believes at this moment that Israel is in no condition to be put under pressure to offer any commitment pertaining to the peace process, so easing the restrictions on Palestinian movement in exchange for a halt to rocket firing seems the most logical thing that one can expect from Israel after the Winograd report. The most recent media reports indicate that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has postponed her scheduled visit to the region until further notice.

Furthermore, since the publication of the report, we have stopped hearing statements from international officials on the "emerging window of opportunity" for peace.

The Arab countries were also served by the report as they knew in advance that Israel would not accept the Arab peace initiative. The Winograd report and its political ramifications inside Israel thus saved them from any embarrassment. At least, they can say, they did their share and no one can blame them afterwards. If they want, the Palestinians can blame the Winograd commission.

Experience has taught the Palestinian people that whenever the peace process is activated, an Israeli prime minister resigns or a Winograd report is published. This leads to early elections in Israel and Palestinians are made to wait. This time, the Palestinians are made to wait and in addition suffer economic and political sanctions imposed on them by those parties that exert "peace efforts" in the region.- Published 7/5/2007 © bitterlemons.org

Khader Khader is a media analyst with the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center.

Bitterlemons-international.org is an internet forum for an array of world perspectives on the Middle East and its specific concerns. It aspires to engender greater understanding about the Middle East region and open a new common space for world thinkers and political leaders to present their viewpoints and initiatives on the region. Editors Ghassan Khatib and Yossi Alpher can be reached at ghassan@bitterlemons-international.org and yossi@bitterlemons-international.org, respectively.

hagalil.com 07-05-2007



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