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Revive the peace initiative, but this time, do it right

The Daily Star

Jordan's King Abdullah II reiterated Wednesday an idea that he and other Arab leaders have broached for some months: reviving the "land for peace" initiative that was first spelled out at the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002.

That initiative offered Israel full recognition by all Arab countries in exchange for full withdrawal from all territory occupied in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973.

The revival of a two-year-old novel idea that never got off the ground when it was first launched might sound like a risky venture. It is. But the risks are worth taking though only if the perpetrators are more serious and diligent this time around. Good ideas with a real constituency tend to have a long shelf life, and the 2002 Arab summit peace plan was and remains a good idea. Yet even good ideas that are amateurishly launched will always fail to garner an audience.

The main problem in 2002 was that the sponsors of the plan the Arab leaders neither identified the correct target audience that they should go after nor made any serious efforts to give their plan credence or longevity. Collective Arab diplomatic imprecision and apathy killed the peace plan before it even had a chance to walk. You should always learn from your mistakes, though. The Arab summit in Tunis later this month should do things right this time, if it is seriously pondering relaunching the Arab Peace Initiative. Standard operating procedures of Arab diplomacy are not good enough.

If the Arab world is offering to make peace with Israel, it must unambiguously grasp the imperative of speaking directly, honestly, clearly and often to the Israeli and Jewish people. We are not trying to make peace with CNN, the New York Times or Chatham House. The critical missing step in the 2002 offer of peace with Israel was communicating the Arab desire for a fair and honorable peace accord to the Israeli and Jewish people. The lack of a serious diplomatic and public opinion-directed communication campaign allowed Ariel Sharon to wriggle free from one of his most difficult moments. This mistake should not be repeated.

It is very much worth relaunching the pan-Arab peace plan. But it should be bolstered with a well-thought-out campaign with two aims: to compel Israelis to understand the historic opportunity for peace and normalcy that stares them in the face, and to help Jews around the world understand that blind support for Israel is a recipe only for perpetual warfare in Israel and Palestine.

Source: Daily Star, March 12, 2004. dailystar.com.lb

The Power of Incitement
In light of recent suspected involvement of Jewish and Arab Israelis in violent acts against each other’s communities, this editorial states that the ‘task of Jewish and Arab leaders in Israel is to educate their communities toward tolerance of the views of the other side, to cultivate the recognition of freedom of speech, and to remove stereotypes that derive from racist and preconceived notions from public discourse.” (Source: Ha’aretz, March 7, 2004)

The Palestinian’s Long Wait for Peace
Elias H. Tuma, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of California reflects on the Palestinian strategy of waiting for external intervention to resolve the conflict with Israel. He further advocates for the Palestinians to “initiate and propose solutions that Israel cannot reject, even if such solutions entail serious compromises on their part”. (Source: AMIN.org, March 1, 2004)

Scaling the Middle Ground
Bill Broadway reports on the recent Breaking the Ice expedition that will be awarded a Common Ground Award from Search for Common Ground. The awards honour those who have made important contributions toward bridging the divides between people, finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and providing hope where there often was none. (Source: The Washington Post, March 6, 2004)

Common Ground News Service February 20, 2004
CGNews promotes constructive perspectives and dialogue about current Middle East issues.

From the Common Ground News Service
hagalil.com 22-03-2004



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