New Middle East peace mission

Aug 15,2017 -JORDAN TIMES – Hasan Abu Nimah

US President Trump is dispatching a new peace mission to the Middle East, news reports say. The team, led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will also include US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.

This will be the second Kushner peace assignment, following an earlier attempt, few months ago, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, that ended quickly with no visible results. Why again? It is because Trump views the period of calm prevailing now in Jerusalem after last month’s unrest as an opportunity to seize upon.

President Trump’s belief that peace between the Arabs and the Israelis is achievable despite the obvious difficulties that seem to be unshakable. He made that very clear on several occasions, referring to encouraging promises made to him by both sides, Arabs and Israelis, in addition to the Palestinians, indicating that all the concerned parties are committed to peace

So what is wrong with that?

For one thing, the so-called calm that currently prevails in Jerusalem is not the kind of calm that indicates an end to a century-old conflict. Rather, it is the brief respite that separates one upsurge of violence from another. It is unrealistic that violence in Jerusalem and within the occupied Palestinian territories will turn into a lasting calm at any moment, and so long as the occupation remains in place, violence can erupt at any moment, shattering any calm. The provocative Jewish settler incursions into the Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem have not ended. Just as they were the cause of serious tension before, they will continue to incite further violence.

My second point, based on lessons learnt from history, is that opportunities for peace are often born from crisis and eruptions of violence, rather than from calm.

Our experience in this region supports the notion that wars and violence have been the powerful driving forces in mobilising peacemakers and setting them in motion; while calm leads to political indifference, even stagnation in the peace business. Therefore, the seeming, certainly temporary, calm may not be a great asset for peace.

My third point relates to President Trump, no doubt sincere view, that if all sides want to make peace, why should they not be taken on their word. Simply because this region has not been deprived of peace because its people just did not want it and they have now changed their minds; or because they were not fully aware of the benefits of peace, so they did not care about it; or because they were straightforward warmongers. It is nothing like that. Everyone cherishes the cause of peace; but what peace. The peace Israel wants with the Palestinians requires that the Palestinians relinquish all their rights, past and present, their territorial and political rights, their history their mere existence and their future. 

But rather than examining people’s sentiments about peace and basing peacemaking strategy on just that, we need to ask why there has been no peace in this region for so long and why it has been almost impossible to bring the missing peace back despite so much effort by the UN, other regional and international organisations, conferences, peace missions, mediation, superpower action and more.

It is clearly due to other causes, the real causes, which many peacemakers tend to inadvertently bypass, that perpetual conflict, war, violence, misery, insecurity and political instability have been overwhelming all over this part of the world, decade after decade.

The real causes I am referring to started with the uprooting of the Palestinian people in 1948: the injustice that befell them and has never been redressed, the steady colonisation of the occupied Palestinian and Arab lands, the siege, the suffering, the daily humiliation, the continued oppressive occupation practices, the hopelessness and the compounded despair. Peace can neither be built, nor can it be sustained on human misery and injustice.

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Categories: Israel, Palestine, USA

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