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Palestine: Back to Square One - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Over the past few decades, the signs have always led back to the Palestinian issue. There have been serious as well as false attempts to resolve the conflict, which is the common denominator of all of the main issues in the region. However, in attempts at resolution, the incidents always take place on Palestinian territory or in the surrounding Arab region, such as Iraq and Lebanon, add to that the rise in terrorism. Such incidents have destroyed any efforts to solve the problem. Unfortunately, the stronger party capable of bringing about change, such as the United States, quickly loses track and becomes preoccupied by other events and abandons the main issue – the clearest example of which is Iraq and terrorism.

As long as there is a common conviction in the key capitals that the Palestinian issue is real and just and that it is the source of crises employed by some parties to exacerbate tensions, this ineffectiveness that has lasted 50 years demonstrates the failure of politicians to focus on and enforce a solution.

Naturally, any observer of the numerous attempts to establish peace would be quick to remind us that the will to solve the crisis has always been present but has constantly failed and that no one can impose a solution on any of the concerned parties. The reason for failure has been that serious attempts have been undermined by extremists on both sides and this suggests hasty submission and repeated defeats.

The only solution is to insist upon a solution that is similar to what transpired in southern Lebanon and Gaza when Israel decided to withdraw when it realized that occupation would only mean defeat for them. Jewish and Arab extremists alike have attempted to abort the processes of withdrawal. Moreover, some Arabs in southern Lebanon believed that the withdrawals were only used to conceal a wider plot, whereas in Gaza, the withdrawal process was attacked by Israeli extremists who saw it as a disregard of Israeli security. Finally, the Palestinian factions had warned against the dangers of withdrawal without a written agreement. As we can see, time has proved the opposite of what the extremists have expressed; the move resulted in alleviating the severity of this huge crisis and liberating the two occupied territories.

The real solution does not lie in a new accord like Camp David but in the insistence upon implementing a solution that can be applied in southern Lebanon and Gaza, in other words – a unilateral withdrawal which will impose solutions at a later stage. This was proposed during Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s era and was reintroduced by talks regarding a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

Let this be the aim of the project: to convince Israel that withdrawal does not require negotiations as long as the Palestinian side is unable to impose its presence due to internal causes. This proposal cannot be further simplified as it practically remains the only feasible solution that can succeed in spite of Iranian, Syrian or Jewish extremist opposition. This is where the role of the United States comes in; to present what it sees of additional guarantees and compensation for Israeli security. For the world to wake up one day without occupied land is a major step in the interests of the region, the world, and of course, the Palestinians and Israelis.

Ultimately, the one’s who will lose the most from the withdrawal are the extremists throughout the Middle East, even those who have used the tried-and-tested cause that we know so well to fuel their ends, because maybe in 30 years time, the solution would be to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza – so why wait three explosive decades in the meantime?

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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