Does Israel seek War or Peace?
Successive Israeli governments have failed to achieve peace with the Palestinians. The reasons were sometimes vague, while in other times they were crystal clear. It was after the killing of Yitzhak Rabin that a lack of vision became dominant in the Israeli political arena and Israeli erosion of that which he agreed upon in Oslo. Various pretexts were given and responsibility for their failure was placed on the shoulders of Palestinians, while it was Israel who in fact did not choose peace.
The current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to continue with the peace process when he held the post in 1996. Not surprisingly, he is repeating himself today by burying the two-state solution and any hope for peace.
It is clear that Israel was never interested in peace. When Yassir Arafat was in charge of Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel said he is no partner. America and the EU pressured him to create prime minster post, which he did and appointed Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas became the prime mister, yet they continued to refuse the idea of peace. Yassir Arafat was killed and Abbas became the president. President Abbas negotiated with Israel but, alas, nothing happened. Then, they said that Palestinians were not ready for peace. Hamas came to power in 2006 and Israel again said there was no partner for peace. Hamas and Fatih fought each other and negotiations took place, yet there still was no peace. Now, Hamas and Fatih are united again. Israel and the US say that peace will never happen due to reconciliation.
Each and every time Israel made it clear that peace was not its priority. The intention here is not to attack Israel, but merely to present the facts. The entire time the aforementioned peace process was on-going or there were negotiations regarding the resumption of peace, Israel continued with its settlement expansion. More settlements were built, lands were stolen and a tight apartheid wall was built. People were and continue to be ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem, while the Judisation of the city takes place.
For almost 5 years now, Israel imposes a harsh siege on the population of Gaza. The siege is causing new generations to be raised in poverty, fear and trauma of Israeli warfare. Yet, Israel speaks of peace. What are we expecting from a new traumatized generation in Gaza?
Undoubtedly, the region is nearing a full-scale confrontation and Israel is trying to push the Palestinians into a corner, not leaving anything for them. It has rejected both one and two state solutions; it has refused all solutions that allow Palestinian refugees to return; and, it has besieged the people and launched wars over Gaza and led raids on West Bank cities.
Ironically, Israel sounds happy about the Arab pro-democracy revolutions. Yet it ignores the aspiration of those people. Their aspirations include not only toppling their dictators, but also bringing an end to the injustice suffered by the Palestinians. With the absence of any readiness toward peace from Israel, the scale of confrontation will be far wider than we ever expected.
By Sameh A. Habeeb
Palestinian Journalist from the Gaza Strip and Founder of Palestine Telegraph Journalist
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Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel