Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Blair, the Window, and the Wolves Part 2 - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The demand for a just peace in the occupied territories is obvious; a Palestinian state as declared in the Arab peace plan which was accepted by all the Arabs, most importantly by the Palestinians, at the famous Beirut summit.

British Prime Minster Tony Blair is believed to be working on a similar plan, at least as it pertains to the Palestinians, however, little is known on how it would approach issues concerning Syria and Lebanon, but it must in order to insure the peace would be a comprehensive one.

This is a window of opportunity, opened by the recent war in Lebanon that confirmed to all parties that negotiations and resolving matters peacefully is the only viable option.

Blair’s enthusiasm and Hamas’s acceptance are not enough. The safety belt needs to be buckled tightly when sitting at the negotiations table because the gateway to more pains has traditionally started there.

The safety belt in this case is represented by surveying Palestinians public opinion regarding what their idea of a state is, since recent events have proven that we do not categorically know what the majority wants.

The collective agreement of Arab governments is not enough and no one can reject the Palestinian majority, which needs to be incorporated into a proposed peace plan in order to strengthen the negotiators, while also providing a sense of trust to the entire Arab region, peoples and governments.

`Though the Israeli war aborted the polling plan that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tried to organize after it became an issue of concern to Hamas officials, it still remains the best guarantee that could be given. The approval of a majority of the Palestinians of negotiations to establish an independent state with its borders the pre-1967 war ones, East Jerusalem its capital, and the refugees’ return will weaken any interference by foreign parties to spoil the plan and past attempts will not be repeated.

It will also put to an end to the internal Palestinian fighting by adopting the decision of the majority since there are some that believe that Palestine’s borders are the pre-1948 war ones.

If the majority votes for the proposed state in the Arab peace plan, the results will be decided before the negotiations even start, making matters easier for the Palestinian negotiator and the other Arabs. But if the majority votes against the proposed state, then this will create internal division and each party will return home to stockpile for other long battles.

Though some have attacked Blair’s presence in the region, assuming that this is an attempt to survive the turmoil that exists within his own party, they forget that Blair is not as important as the message he is carrying. If they want an end to these crises, then let them give the man a chance without forgetting that wars are fought in order to reach peace and not for the sake of fighting alone.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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