Thursday, August 03, 2006

Renew the Saudi Initiative

After the Hizbullah is pushed away from the border and an international force with actual power comes to Southern Lebanon, it will be time for a new strategy. Ehud Olmert seems to have locked on to unilateralism, since he doesn't see any Palestinian partner for peace. That would be a horrible mistake. In that respect, he'll indeed be following Ariel Sharon's legacy.

Sharon turned down peace talks with Syria and declined to talk about the Saudi Initiative, which called for peace between Israel and all Arab countries in return for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem at its capital, returning the Golan heights to Syria and recognizing the Palestinian right of return. Though we cannot accept the right of return and have qualms regarding other elements of the proposal, it is a good starting point. After all, negotiations don't begin at a place of agreement, but if they succeed, that's where they lead.

Negotiating peace with the Arab world will be long and hard, but it's necessary. Yes, there will always be those who claim that not all grievances have been settled, as Hizbullah is doing now over the Shaba Farms, but that's no excuse for perpetual stalemate (or worse, perpetual war).

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  1. What's wrong with a right of return? As an fair minded outsider it seems only reasonable. If you can't return land stolen from Arabs when they were pushed into the sea in '48 then a reasonable apprasal of current market value should apply.

  2. It's more complicated than that. It was a war. Some fled, some were pushed out. Both sides did horrible things to each other. Israel won, and shouldn't have to apologize for its victory.

    Anyway, some kind of compensation would be okay. It's the physical return of refugees into Israel that is a no-go.

  3. No it's not simple but there is a start to dialogue if you were willing to trade some kind of compensation for no physical return. It may be as simple as helping build up communities of the directly affected refugee descendents in a recognised Palestinian state in a manner that can be tied to the value fo the specific land titles they were pushed from. Neutralise the poison.

    The state of Israel can fund this, and then reclaim some of the cost by direct imposition of a tax on the direct beneficiaries of the land grab. That way stealing property becomes less rewarding, and the same pool of capital available goes to work for peaceful purposes.

    Just a thought ;)