The Jordan Times (Editorial)
October 2, 2007 - 7:33pm

It is not too hard to figure out what Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni must have meant when she asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during their encounter in New York last Friday, to be realistic in his quest for peace with Israel.

For Livni and the rest of the Israeli government, realism in the search for a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict means one thing only: the status quo. That means that few cosmetic changes might be made to peripheral issues only.

The timing of the Israeli counsel on how to be “realistic” is interesting; it comes on the eve of a projected peace conference on outstanding Arab-Israeli conflicts scheduled to take place in Washington. And it all takes place when Palestinians are looking forward to the Washington conference to settle final status issues dividing the two sides.

According to Livni, however, it is still too early to delve on final status talks, despite the many years that passed since the tortuous peace negotiations between the two sides began.

Palestinians must have another meaning for realism in the search for peace in the Middle East, and it cannot be anything other than settling, once and for all, the issues that have thus far frustrated their aspiration to statehood and independence. Anything else of such substantial, meaningful discussions is for them purely and simply unrealistic.

Given the disconnect between Israelis’ and Palestinians’ discourse on peace, the difference in their goals and objectives for the November conference, one wonders if the effort of even attending the meeting is worthwhile.

If US President George W. Bush, who called for this conference, is serious about seeing results and pushing the stalled peace process forward, his administration should prepare the groundwork for a successful peace conference by counselling Israeli leaders and warning them that anymore time wasting is risky and no longer realistic for Israel.

The creation of an independent Palestinian state is much overdue. Agreement on the boundaries of such state is also way behind schedule.

Bush declared many years ago that his vision for the Middle East entails the creation of a free and independent Palestinian state living side by side with a safe Israel. This vision should be the motto of the November peace conference. It must also be part and parcel of the kind of realism that Israel still does not seem to understand.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017