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Obama .. Put Your Plan on the Table - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The most prominent thing in the speech by the Palestinian president at the recent Fatah conference was his call on the US President to announce a peace plan and to present it as a negotiation plan instead of leaving the Palestinian and Israeli sides fighting in regards to everything.

Really, why does the US President not present a peace plan that he thinks is reasonable. The reasonable plan is not a difficult task now after years of negotiations that made all; Arabs, Israelis, and Americans, aware of the features of the possible solution, which is to have two states; Palestinian and Israeli on the pre-1967 borders. There is a semi-acceptance of a host of general guidelines regarding Jerusalem, refugees, and water that are enough as a basis to work out a peace plan while leaving the details for the negotiators.

Why does not Obama do it after he saw that it is impossible to leave the solution to the wills of the Israeli and Palestinian authorities? Obama will find an overwhelming support from several Arabs and Israelis and he will also hear objections to his plan from the same two camps because the opposition is there even though it has retreated a lot with the passage of time. Recent opinion polls show that the majority of citizens in Israel and Palestine support the two states solution.

When Obama puts his signature on a peace plan, not many people would dare to oppose it because this opposition would be costly. As for the traditional opposition, such as Iran and its friends, it will lie in wait. The plan will be fought by the Israeli extremists on the other side. This is a normal opposition that requires to be faced with a determination to continue on the road of peace.

As for why should the US President go to the point of announcing a peace plan and to go to war for it, the reasons lie in its political, historic, and human value. He tried and saw that the direct negotiations would not be successful. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not want to anger the settlers, and he fears that if he does so, they would force his government out of power, a sacrifice he refuses to risk after he waited for long years to return to the premiership. The same is the case with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas who suspended all the negotiations and set a condition of halting settlement construction. He then could not back off out of fear of being accused of treason and of giving concessions on his previous stances. In spite of the optimistic atmosphere, which suggests that the two sides are about to return to the negotiation table after US envoy George Mitchell returns [to the region] the negotiations will not be successful. Even if the two sides resume the negotiations, what is likely is that they would stop these negotiations for the same old reason.

Obama should be aware that he, personally and not any envoy or minister, can do this task. The Middle East cannot be run by the remote control and all the US Presidents have either been directly engaged in the negotiations or spent long times on the phone. The personal contacts are necessary for overcoming the obstacles, as well as repeatedly seeking the help of friends to intervene and overcome the differences, which are beneficial means. Finally, Obama should open his door and get used to hosting the negotiators at the White House and to be generous in inviting them to lunch and dinner and not to be satisfied with coffee meetings, half of which goes for taking pictures and spreading out artificial smiles.

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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