Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Can We Wait Another Five Years? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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We have been waiting 50 years, so why are we complaining now that Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has requested that we wait another five years?

This was said during his comments on the Arab initiative in which he pointed out that it could serve as a basis for negotiation and that peace would follow later.

Over the past five years Afghanistan was invaded, Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled, Rafik Hariri was assassinated, chaos spread through Iraq, two million Iraqis were displaced for terrorist and sectarian reasons, the Iranian nuclear projected manifested, another ruling party assumed power in the Palestinian Authority, a major war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah, the Palestinians entered the dark tunnel of siege and infighting amongst brothers, the Syrians were isolated and for the first time in its history, the Egyptian authority suffered escalating problems with the legitimate opposition. That is, of course, in addition to the crises in Sudan and Somalia.

We are traveling down the road of events faster than the passage of time itself. It’s clear that the issues are interrelated in one geographic area and that they influence one another throughout the region. Undoubtedly the September 11 attacks assassinated the international Palestinian project and extinguished the fire that was leading the world towards a Palestinian solution of which the aim was an independent state.

As a result of the ongoing events and the attempts to put out fires in a number of places, other important political problems were disrupted and delayed. As such we believe that Olmert’s declaration that the solution would require an additional five years, throws cold water on the Arab initiative¬ – when it was positively received by all international powers. Requesting a five-year wait is Olmert’s way of rejecting it and halting its advance by playing the time game when the initiative took a shortcut through the long years by presenting 22 signatory Arab states that approved of it, along with the entailed binding commitments such as the recognition of Israel by these 22 states in the case of a peace agreement being signed in accordance with the Arab project.

Those who read the initiative will find it very realistic and clearly aimed towards reducing the time of negotiations, which most likely would lead to the same conclusions proposed in the initiative. Five years is too long a time for the Middle East that always begets crises upon crises.

One cannot guess what the state of this region will be in 2012 – let alone in 2009. We assume that responsible leaderships should not yield to Israeli schedules when it comes to resolving crises. Olmert knows full well that as a prime minister he is weak and cannot sit on a negotiation table, so instead of declaring his rejection of the initiative – because of the wide support it gained – he tries to put it in the freezer. This Israeli procrastination has been a tomb for all the previous projects and the Arab initiative must not be buried among them.