The Jordan Times
December 13, 2007 - 1:05pm

Negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis started yesterday under a cloud. Understandably, both sides preferred to keep their talks as low-key as possibly, choosing a secret location in Jerusalem rather than, as expected, the King David Hotel [where Jewish terrorists once killed British soldiers].

One suspects that this decision came at the behest of the Palestinian team who could hardly afford to be seen grinning and backslapping at that place while Palestinians were being killed in Gaza and yet more land is set to be confiscated in the West Bank.

Indeed, the Palestinian delegation risks courting ridicule for its abject lack of backbone in being at these talks in the first place.

For the first time in a long time, the Palestinian side had blanket international backing for its position against the outrageous and provocative Israeli government tender issued last week for some 300 new houses in an East Jerusalem settlement. It would not have been too hard to insist that the tender be withdrawn as a precondition for undertaking the first of what is supposed to be a year-long series of talks to hammer out a peace agreement.

The Israeli aggression in Gaza continues unabated and the poverty-stricken people there have now to contend not only with the lack of medicine and fuel but also with Israeli rocket, tank and gun fire.

Elsewhere, Israeli parliamentarians are furious that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to recognise Israel as a “Jewish state”, thus showcasing their blatant racism and utter refusal to reach any just deal with the Palestinians that is acceptable under international and moral law.

What is to be done?

The temptation is to turn one’s back on the whole sorry mess and try and ignore Israel. Were it not for the suffering that this country inflicts upon others, that might be the most fruitful way forward. Unfortunately, Israel is like a school bully with access to a semi-automatic. Turning your back is simply too dangerous.

But talking to Israel also appears pointless. Israel wants what is simply unacceptable. It wants peace with its neighbours but without treating its neighbours with any semblance of civility.

How can it possibly expect to be recognised as a “Jewish” state when 20 per cent of its population is non-Jewish and another 4.5 million Palestinian refugees still await their right to return to their homes and lands from where they were evicted to make place for this state?

Let it be recognised for what it should be: a state made up of Palestinians and Jews with a right of return for both. And in those areas it occupied in 1967, either the same should happen or a Palestinian state should be built with the same right to live in security as Israel.

Peace is possible. But not without justice.


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