Solutions to Peace in the Holy Land
Analysis/Opinion Through research, it is now evident to me that the Oslo Accords signaled that there are people on both sides of the issue who truely are interested in peace. However, the Oslo Accords were ultimately fruitless because they failed to provide a pathway to meet the desired goals. While the Holy Land has faced fighting throughout his Presidency, President Bush is correct in concocting a roadmap to peace with help from Russia, the EU, and the UN. In the roadmap, several small objectives must first be met, and followed by progressive steps which aims at eventually providing peace. The best and most feasible solution to lasting peace is the creation of a Palestinian state coexisting peacefully with Israel, working cooperatively to make resources available, better transportation, and provide sound infrastructure, as the two are intricately intertwined. It is imperative that Israel and the Palestinians reach permanent peace terms because as the fighting continues, of Israelis and Palestinians alike will continue to see education, quality of life, and most importantly lives lost. It is unlikely that the United States foreign policy position on Israel-Palestine will change drastically over the next four years, as the President-Elect has indicated that he strongly supports the two state solution.
Madrid Peace Conference/Oslo Accords
Israeli-Arab conflict has existed for thousands of years. Modern American policy towards the conflict can be traced back to the Madrid Conference of 1991. It is essential to understand the sentiments of the time. First, the Cold War had just come to a conclusion with the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and hopes for peace were running high throughout the world. The Gulf War, pitting a coalition of thirty-four nations and United Nations sanctioning had returned peace to Kuwait. Many Israeli and Arabic people as well as the George H.W. Bush administration wanted the Holy Land to be next to experience peace. With the help of his Secretary of State James Baker, peace negotiations began in Madrid in 1991. Symbolic, but producing little tangible evidence of peace for the public, the Madrid Peace Conference did lead to clandestine discussions between Israel and Palestinian leaders in Oslo, Norway in 1993, shaded from the world’s eye. On September 13, 1993, history was made with the signing of the Oslo Accords. It was the first time that Palestinians acknowledged the right of the Jewish State to exist. Signed by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin for Israel and Palestine respectively, the Accords provided a foundation for the peaceful coexistence of two states. Indeed, hopes for peace were running high.
The “Road Map”
But high hopes for peace were short lived. Israelis distrusted the intentions of Arafat and the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority, created in the Oslo Accords, was coming under control of Hamas, a Jihad group who refused to recognize the existence of Israel, undermining the Oslo Accords. Neither party lived up to their side of the negotiations, despite several more attempts at renewing peace. In 2002 the European Union, United Nations, Russia, and the United States formulated a “roadmap” to peace which would result in two states. Neither Israel nor Palestine has completed what was outlined. The “roadmap” was intended to be implemented in three phases. In the first phase, Palestine would stop terrorism and support democratic elections; Israel would withdraw troops and stop expanding Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. Next, Israel and Palestine would reestablish economic and resource relations. The last phase would bring clarification of controversial issues like Jerusalem and permanent standing. The first phase started cautiously but successfully with the appointment of a new Palestinian Prime Minister. Israel began releasing Palestinian prisoners. But progress was halted when small acts of violence began occurring on both sides and retaliations escalated. After a series of violence and ceasefire cycles, Hamas, the anti-Israeli Jihad organization in Palestine, won control of the Palestinian Parliament. Now on the verge of civil war, Hamas has gained control of Gaza, while the West Bank remains primarily in Fatah control. Hamas and Israel are currently in a fragile ceasefire state.
After the Oslo Accords, the world anticipated the creation of a new nation cut from the Holy Land. The Israelis were willing to sacrifice land for peace, as land was not expected to be a great factor in determining power in the future. But to have two coexisting neighbor states, both parties must be willing to make concessions and recognize each other as legitimate. Unfortunately, the necessary concessions have began several times, but rising radical factions and acts of violence have impeded progress. The two state solution would solve the problems of Palestinian refugees by offering them citizenship in the new Arab government. Under the two state solution, the Holy Land would be divided into two separate states, Israel, the state of the Jews and Palestine, the state of the Arabs. Ideally, both nations would peacefully coexist sharing resources and working together in matters like energy and transportation. The two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a long history, dating back to 1967 with the Geneva Accords.
The one state solution has emerged in recent times as the only realistic approach for peace in the Israeli-Arab struggle. In the one state or binational solution, Palestinians and Israelis would live intermixed in a common state. This solution would provide a secular government to problems that the entire state faces such as energy and commerce, while Israeli and Arab presence would remain outside of government. Supporters of the binational solution point to the fact that after decades the two state solution has not worked and will not work in the future, particularly because of Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory. Opposition is strong, with each party fearing that the minority will be dissipated and absorbed by the majority. Conservative Arabs argue against the plan ideologically, saying that it violates the doctrine of Pan Arabism. Some Palestinians believe the two state solution died with Yasser Arafat.
Bush Administration Policy
The Bush administration strongly advocates a two state solution. At the beginning of his term in 2001, the Holy Land was facing violent hostilities again with the rise of the second intifada. Bush, along with the United Nations and Russia, pushed for renewed peace efforts by outlining the roadmap for peace in 2002. While progress was made in selecting a new prime minister and stopping the violence, the rising of Hamas to power in 2006 halted much progression. During the Lebanon War in 2006, The United States supported Israel. The Bush administration acknowledges that the peace process in the Arab Israeli conflict requires ongoing work and effort. In 2007, The United States launched another peace conference in Annapolis which was widely attended. The Annapolis convention continued the efforts outlined in the roadmap and ended with the Palestinian leaders announcing their desire for peace with Israel. However, the Palestinian representatives were Fatah; Hamas is the current party in power and instead of attending the conference, held protests with Iran.
Obama Administration Policy
President-Elect Barack Obama articulates in his party platform that he also advocates the two state solution to solve the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. He is a cosponsor of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 along with Joe Biden which prevents assistance to entities controlled by Hamas unless certain condition are met including the recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Barack Obama will encourage the strengthening of moderates willing to work together for peace.
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