Gulf News (Editorial)
September 27, 2007 - 11:00pm
http://gulfnews.com/opinion/editorial_opinion/region/10156489.html


The proposed international peace conference called by US President George W. Bush should be carefully planned because the Middle East cannot afford the failure of another peace gathering.

This probably is the reason some in the region, including Saudi Arabia, are reluctant to take part. The failure of peace efforts will only frustrate the region's people and allow radicals to exploit sentiments. As the history of the Middle East tells us, bloody conflicts usually follow the collapse of peace talks.

Therefore, the US administration needs to do its homework and ensure it has checked the whole list before venturing again into the moving sands of Middle East politics.

First, Syria has to be invited, as it is an essential part of the peace process. Arabs say they cannot wage war without Egypt and cannot make peace without Syria.

The US has been trying to isolate Syria because of its alleged support for armed groups that battle American forces in Iraq. But Washington cannot isolate Syria when it comes to the peace process. One cannot claim to make peace in the region whilst ignoring a country whose land has been occupied since 1967.

Second, Israel continues to attack Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Dozens of people have been killed or injured by Israeli fire in Gaza in the past 36 hours.

The US cannot expect Arabs to sit face to face with Ehud Olmert and talk of normalisation while their brethren are being slaughtered. Also, Israel expects Arabs to agree at the conference on conditions of peace, including speedy normalisation of ties, but refuses to commit to the same rule.

Bush and the new peace envoy Tony Blair have a difficult task, but if they cannot stand the heat, get out of the Middle East.




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