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  Attempts to seek peace in Palestine

Arûnas Spraunius
2008 02 28

G. W. Bush is the first American President who visited Ramal on the West Coast belonging to Palestine. During the press conference with the Palestinian President M.Abbas, he expressed the expectation that Israel/Palestine Treaty of Peace would be concluded before the end of his presidency. G.Bush also said that Israel should ensure integral territory for the future state of Palestine and added that the radical Hamas has given to the Gaza Strip nothing but poverty.

Before leaving for Ramal President of the United States said (after the negotiations with the Prime Minister of Israel E.Olmert) that he was expecting the peace, but acknowledged that struggle for peace would require huge efforts. The Treaty of Peace of the Middle East should specify the ambition to create such a Palestinian state Palestine, as Israel is the state for the Jewish. G.Bush encouraged Israel to terminate occupation of the Palestinian territories and suggested new initiatives, such as compensations for the Palestinian refuges. President of the US urged the Arab states to start communicating with Israel and, consequently, pursue peace negotiations.

During the visit of G.W.Bush, Tony Blair, currently the Middle East envoy for the US, EU, Russia and the UN (the Quartet for the Middle East), has also expressed his belief in a possibility to conclude the Treaty of Peace. He mentioned that peace between the Jewish and the Palestinians could be reached by January 2009, but highlighted that the persons in charge would need a lot of courage in this complex decision-making and compromise process.

It seems that the last year’s Peace Conference in Annapolis and the visit of president of the United States have encouraged certain changes in the Middle East – on 14 January the BBC announced that meeting of the Israel/Palestinian negotiators has started in Jerusalem. The issues discussed included: the status of Jerusalem, borders of the independent state of Palestine, the fate of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank; refugees, security policy and water resources. Negotiations were chaired by T.Livni, the Israeli minister of foreign affairs, and Ahmed Qurei, former Palestinian Prime Minister. Then M.Abbas said that in case if negotiators facilitate consideration of the above problems, it would be possible to talk about the final agreement between the Jewish and the Palestinians. Besides, both parties to the negotiations should implement the 1st part of the „Road Guidelines“ project accepted in 2003, i.e. to issue a joint declaration supporting the establishment of two independent states – Israel and Palestine.

A.Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, has once said that Arab states would support the peace process in the Middle East, but they were waiting for serious evidentiary from Israel on termination of the conflict. In Annapolis M.Abbas has repeated once again that East Jerusalem should become the capital of the future state of Palestine. According to E.Olmert, M.Abbas was going to recognize Israelthe way Israel recognizes itself, although was not going to declare this aloud.

There are many disputable issues. The problem of the future Jerusalem should be treated as a separate and unique issue. E.Olmert even mentioned that Israeli might need to share the city of Davyd with the Palestinians.  According to him, the world which is actually supporting Israel, sees its future within the borders of 1967 and speaks about the partition of Jerusalem. Prime Minister of Jerusalem referred to the coincidence that G.W.Bush is currently President of the United States, N.Sarkozy – the leader of France, A.Merkel – the chancellor of Germany, G.Brown – Prime Minister of Great Britain and T.Blair the Middle Eastenvoy as a miracle. Combination of these leaders is most favorable to Israel, therefore it is instrumental to use it.

Recently Israel seemed to be ready to return certain occupied regions, but not the East Jerusalem. And more than 75 percent of the US Jewish community are against the return of Jerusalem to the Arabs. N.Sharansky, representing the movement the United Jerusalem said that E.Olmert should initiate the international forum of the Jewish organizations in order to discuss the above issue.

Another complex problem is Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas. M.Abbas urges to resume negotiations with this group, however it is hard to imagine Hamas and Israeli leaders negotiating: in the middle of January Hamas fighters launched more than 110 missiles into the Israeli territory. In response aviation of Israel has flattened out the Ministry of Interior controlled by Hamas. Another air attack hit the headquarters of the militant navigation controlled by Hamas.

The majority wants peace in the Middle East. The newspaper The New York Sun wrote that on the New Year‘s eve D.Landau, the editor-in-chief of the Israeli daily Haaretz, urged the US State Secretary C.Rice „to rape“ Israel and its neighbors in order to move the issue of peace forward.

Although all necessary preparations have been done for the visit of the American president to the Middle East, these were not enough. The Arabs treated this tour skeptically. According to them, the interest of G.Bush in the problem of Israeland Palestineis not sincere but predetermined by the concern in his political legacy.

After the statement on keeping promises and possible partition of Jerusalem one month ago, E.Olmert would also face serious challenges. Usually the leaders who try to be more active and tough become hostages of their initiatives or sometimes even the victims. Therefore it would be hard to avoid the element of „rape“ even in pursuance of the compromise.

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