Gulf News (Editorial)
July 29, 2009 - 12:00am

The United States is getting it wrong in its approach to the Middle East peace process. Asking the Arabs to make concessions while the Netanyahu government shuns all peace efforts is like putting the cart before the horse - it will never work.

How can US President Barack Obama justify his pressure on Arab states to introduce 'confidence-building measures' when Israel is rejecting his calls to stop confiscating Palestinian land and building more colonies?

The Arabs have already put a comprehensive peace offer on the table. The Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, offers Israel full normalisation of ties with Arab states in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands occupied since 1967.

But Israel has yet to acknowledge the initiative. Several Israeli governments have rejected it. Meanwhile, the Israelis have continued to launch military attacks on their neighbours and absorb more lands to expand Jewish colonies, including in Occupied Jerusalem.

Did the American administration get the message? No. Instead Obama sent letters to Arab leaders asking them to normalise ties with Israel, which is ruled by an extreme right-wing government that wants to erase Arab identity not only in the land occupied since 1948 but also in Occupied Jerusalem, a city that is considered holy by Arab Muslims and Christians alike.

Obama's envoy George Mitchell says the peace process can be resumed if Arabs show willingness to integrate Israel into the region.

But how can the Arabs make concessions, which are hard to sell to the Arab public, when more than one million people are being starved to death in Gaza and homes demolished in the West Bank, including Occupied Jerusalem?

Mitchell is totally confused. It is Israel that occupies Arab land. It is Israel that attacks and kills civilians. The Arabs are the ones who need security guarantees. Israel has a US-made formidable military arsenal. It has some 200 nuclear warheads.

The US has to get its priorities right. Otherwise, peace will have no future in this vital but chronically troubled region.


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