The Jordan Times, Editorial
It seems that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is serious about
pulling out of the Gaza Strip, perhaps all of it, perhaps not, and maybe
with some West Bank settlements thrown in for good measure. This, in and of
itself, is good news. Any evacuation, from any part of occupied Palestinian
territory must be welcomed. Nevertheless, the Palestinian National Authority
(PNA), Jordan, Egypt and the international community are all interested that
the withdrawal should not happen unilaterally.
There are several reasons for this. On the political level, the US is
understandably eager that any withdrawal should be seen in the context of
the so-called Middle East roadmap for peace. For the political purposes of
this administration it would serve to show that its plan is indeed in effect
and progressing, an important foreign policy victory in an election year.
But it is also important for the PNA and neighbouring countries. If the
pullback comes as part of a coordinated manoeuvre, and in the context of the
roadmap the move will be harder to reverse for the Israeli government, and
will be a first step towards the establishment of a Palestinian state as
stipulated by the Quartet plan. If it encompasses similar withdrawals in the
West Bank, it could ease Palestinian hardships there, and may allow for
further meaningful negotiations. In the overriding interest of Palestinians,
Israelis, Jordan and Egypt, this may serve to lessen tension and violence.
There are also practical reasons for the withdrawal to be coordinated.
While Gaza has been the centre of some internal Palestinian unrest
recently, there appears to be little danger yet of any full-fledged civil
war as some have been suggesting. Nevertheless, an enabled and empowered PNA
is essential for the people of the Strip: Work on developing its economy and
rebuilding its infrastructure would be impossible without this.
But for this to happen, Israel must be willing to allow it to happen by
coordinating its moves with the PNA and allowing it to do its work. The
international community must also be willing to help. UNRWA continues to be
hopelessly underfunded, and as the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian
areas is only getting worse, it is in everyone's interest that this
organization is enabled to do its work. Again Israel must play ball.
Donor countries are understandably reluctant to invest money in
infrastructure only to see this infrastructure destroyed next time Israel
sees fit to invade the Strip. Israel must start putting its own rhetoric
aside and make some political calculations. What is good for the
Palestinians is good for Israel. The better life is for Palestinians, the
more secure Israelis will be.
Ultimately, there is only one way to secure a full and lasting peace, and
that is through a full and negotiated Israeli withdrawal from all occupied
territories. The price Israel will pay is evacuating all the settlements and
sharing Jerusalem. The prize is peace. America's role is crucial, and while
it may be a lot to ask an American administration to be too adventurous in
an election year, if an Israeli withdrawal comes along through negotiations,
the next step would be for the US to allow Palestinian President Yasser
Arafat back in from the cold. It is clear that whatever the Israelis or the
Americans think of him, Arafat is not only the elected leader of the
Palestinian people, he is the only one with the personal authority to keep
the Palestinian factions and the Palestinian people together.
But Not Gaza Only!
Rosenberg, Director of Policy Analysis for Israel Policy Forum and former
editor of AIPAC’s Near East Report, discusses the worsening
Israel-Palestinian conflict and the decision by Israeli PM Sharon to
withdraw from the Gaza Strip. According to Rosenberg, “This [move] could be
very good news. But only if Sharon’s proposed unilateral moves are
coordinated with the Palestinians. No warring party has ever made peace by
itself.” (Source: Israel Policy Forum, March 5, 2004)
Sesame Street Divided
Lauren Gelfond reports on the latest reincarnation of Middle East Sesame
Stories - three separate Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli versions
inspired from the U.S. production “Sesame Street”. In these versions
produced during the current Intifada, ‘characters no longer meet “the other”
in the street
– or at all. But
they -- human, animated, or Muppet -- must observe a mandate of tolerance’.
(Source: Jerusalem Post Magazine, March 5, 2004)
A Palestinian Refusenik's Open Letter:
To the Jewish People
“If we look to find a reason to hate each other, we will always succeed
individually, and then fail together. But if we constantly strive to find
reasons to come together, to seek hope and to achieve fairness for both
sides, not even the worst kind of hate can stop us.” Palestinian American
columnist Ray Hanania discusses his efforts in advocating in favour of the
moderate Palestinian voices in the face of ongoing violence and hatred in
the Israeli-Arab conflict. (Source:
http://www.hanania.com/, January 14, 2004)