In his much-publicized latest telephonic conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu American President Barack Obama has reportedly “expressed concern about the risk of further escalation” in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip and emphasized the need for “all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm.” Reports are that Obama has proposed ” to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.” French and Russian Presidents Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin have made similar ceasefire pleas . Earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had also urged Israel and Palestinian militants to exercise restraint, saying the Middle East could not afford “another full-blown war”.
One, however doubts if such well-meaning suggestions would lead to any positive outcome . Knowledgeable sources say the Palestinian militants’ charter is not for peace and non-violence . As for the Palestinian leadership , it has hardly been interested in a meaningful dialogue for a political solution in the region. Ever since the Jewish state came into existence in 1948 the successive Israeli political leaderships have appreciated the value of political peace and social harmony and mooted various practical packages aimed at accomplishing the desired objectives . But the Palestinian leadership has invented one or the other reason to reject it .
One expert observes the Palestinian leaders have “rejected several opportunities to establish a Palestinian state and develop Palestinian civil society.” They fear that “accepting reconciliation would transform the Palestinians … from the world’s ultimate victim into an ordinary nation-state, terminating decades of unprecedented international indulgence;” it would force them “into responsibility, accountability and the daunting task of state building.”
Another expert says the Palestinian leaders often moot the partition of Jerusalem. They know it fully well that no Israeli government can ever accept it . He says that Israel cannot agree to any such proposal for three essential reasons . First, Jerusalem as Israel’s capital holds a spiritual and religious significance to the Israelis. Over two thirds of Israelis feel that Jerusalem should remain the united capital of Israel. They are opposed to the idea of Israel relinquishing its control over the Temple Mount , their holiest place in the world.
Second, Jerusalem holds strategic importance in controlling the only highway from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River Valley, along which Israeli military forces can move with little interference from Arab communities. Jerusalem is the linchpin for erecting a security zone along the Jordan Rift that Israel insists on. If Israel wants to maintain a defensible border in the East, it needs to secure the east-west axis from the coast to the Jordan Valley, via an undivided Jerusalem.
And third, Israel’s Arab minority too has shown its preference for living under Israeli rule. Many Arabs have moved to the Israeli side of the security barrier being built around Jerusalem. A large majority of Jerusalem’s Arabs oppose being subject to Palestinian rule. Jerusalem under Israel offers the quality of life of a modern Western city while only a few kilometers away, a Third World standard of living and religious intolerance are the norm.”
The sources say the lack of seriousness for peace in the mind of the Palestinian leadership can be discerned also in its approach towards the culture of hatred and violence promoted by certain extremist elements on its side. The Palestinian political leadership has done little to rein in such violent extremist elements. It has rather continued to encourage the incitement of hatred and violence against Israel even though the latter has provided it a lot aid , including security and intelligence , to make the idea of a Palestinian state a reality.
Palestinian Authority leaders have hailed some terrorists as heroes and named public squares after them. They have designed their school curriculum to make children emulate such terrorists. Recently, Palestinian Authority President Mohammed Abbas has forged a unity pact with Hamas. The whole world knows it is an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood. It is a terror organization with a charter to kill all Jews. Hamas members have made the life of Israelis living in the south miserable as they fire rockets at them.
The sources add Israel has launched its current operation Protective Edge only after a surge in Hamas rocket fire amid a crackdown on their members (in the West Bank) suspected of having recently abducted and killed three Israeli teenagers . Israel’s targets in Gaza have been militant fighters and facilities alone. Civilian casualties, if any, in the operation have been a result of the Hamas recourse to employing human shield aimed at tarnishing the image of Israel.
Jagdish N. Singh