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What a Real Middle East Process Would Look Like

As the Obama Administration tries to drag the rotting corpse of the peace process out from under the table and into public view, accompanied by the expected Israel bashing and phony rhetoric about everyone learning to get along, it might be time to revisit why the peace process failed in the first place.

Unlike the accord with Egypt, the "Middle East Peace Process" expected Israel to negotiate not with a country, but with the PLO terrorist organization, as supposed representatives of the Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank, who were to be given an autonomous territory in exchange for an end to the violence. Though the violence did not end, only escalated, the autonomous territory became a state. Now the PLO\Fatah is fighting for its life against Hamas, and the only thing keeping it in power is American and Israeli backing. The day America and Israel withdraw their support, is the day that Abbas, or whoever is running the giant fraud and terror network of the Palestinian Authority that has siphoned off billions from the US and the EU, had better have a fast jet waiting on a nearby airfield.

It's news to no one that the PLO template of the peace process has failed. Arafat and his henchmen had no ability to govern and no interest in ending the violence. By the end of his term, even President Clinton who had built his legacy on Middle East Peace, was forced to admit that Arafat did not want peace. The process had failed long before that. It was kept alive and is being kept alive like a zombie, by foreign governments and left wingers who insist on the important of a peace process, while being completely detached from the reality of its failure.

The Clinton, two Bush administrations and Obama now, have expected Israel to negotiate with a bunch of terrorists, give them a state, and assume that will solve all the region's problems. As usual this is one of those cases where a four year would quickly understand what most diplomats and politicians deliberately choose not to understand, because it is in their professional interest not to understand it.

But by way of contrast, let's take a look at what a real Middle East Peace Process worthy of the name would look like, not from a pro-Israel perspective, and without laying blame, but from the perspective of practical problem solving oriented diplomacy.

The current situation involving Israel and the Arab world is the product of two wars, in 1948 and 1967.

Seven nations participated in the 1948 war, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel. (Representing the Palestinian Arab side was the Jaysh al-Jihad al-Muqaddas militia under the Mufti of Jerusalem, a former Hitler ally, but not as a nation.)

Five nations participated in the 1967 war, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Israel. (The Palestinian territories had been annexed by Egypt and Jordan in the aftermath of the 1948 war.)

It is clear that any serious Middle East Peace Process has to involve at least five of these nations, preferably all seven, hammering out a resolution to any lingering problems, and agreeing to a long term regional accord. The problems to be discussed include mutual hostility, the regional arms race arise from it, and the status of refugees displaced by mutual hostilities between the parties. The resolution would involve an end to such hostilities and the agreement of all parties to work together to resolve regional issues and problems that arose from their former exchange of hostilities.

Because of the prolonged history of these hostilities, no individual problem can be put at the doorstep of only one party or one nation. Nor can any solution involve only one party or one nation. Solutions must be mutual and involve reciprocation. One party cannot be expected to shoulder the burden alone, or do what the other party will not.

Just as an end to hostilities must be mutual, all other agreements must be mutual as well. So if the Arab states believe that a Palestinian state is vital for peace, they must also be prepared to contribute land to the creation of such a state. This applies most glaringly to Jordan, which was also formed out of the territory of the former Palestinian Mandate, and to Egypt, which had run Gaza for decades. A Palestinian state composed of the territory of three nations and administered by three nations, would be a far more stable and tenable entity. It would also shift the scenario from one of aggression, to mutual cooperation.

The mutual hostilities have in turn created a flow of refugees out of Israel and to Israel, with Palestinian Arabs fleeing Israel, and Jews from Arab lands fleeing to Israel. There are two solutions to such a problem, their absorption by their new land, or their return to the land they fled from. If the nations in the pact agree to the latter, then they must be willing to provide territory or financial compensation to those refugees, across the board.

If Israel must provide land or compensation for Palestinian Arabs who fled, the Arab nations must provide land or compensation for the Jewish refugees who fled or were expelled from their countries. If not only the living refugees, but all of their descendants, must likewise be accommodated, the same solution would have to be applied across the board.

The number of Palestinian Arab refugees and Jewish refugees from Arab lands has both been capped at below a million at the time. Their descendants are both estimated at being somewhere in the several million range. The problem is roughly equivalent on both sides. The solution would have to be roughly equivalent as well. It might take the form of Israel contributing more land for a Palestinian Arab land, and in turn receiving land from Arab nations for the Jewish refugees it absorbed. It might take the form of all sides agreeing to a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" to call an end to past issues, and agree to absorb whatever refugees are residing in their country at the present, with financial compensation provided by the country of the refugee's origin, to both the refugees and their new nation.

Such an approach might actually yield a legitimate regional solution, one based on mutual recognition, a mutual end to hostilities and a commitment to mutual problem solving. This is in contrast to the present day process which is utterly incapable of solving anything, because it enables the Arab nations' neglect of their end of the problem, while forcing Israel to negotiate with terrorist organizations that serve as proxies for the ongoing Arab and Iranian hostilities with Israel.

Such a process does not address either regional problems or regional participants, dooming it to fail, and to prolong the misery of everyone involved by promoting terrorism, bigotry and the use of Palestinian Arabs as pawns in a larger war between the regional powers. By eschewing a real Middle East Peace Process, the United States and Europe are prolonging the regional conflicts in favor of a microcosmic approach that expects Israel to shoulder the burden alone, while expecting nothing from the region's other powers. If they seek real peace, they must be willing to push for a process that fosters mutual responsibility and accountability, rather than striving to ignore it. Only such a process has any hope of bringing peace.


  1. Obama and his handlers don't want peace in the middle east. They want an end to Israel in the middle east just as they want an end to democracy in the west.

  2. Anonymous16/8/09

    I assume you are speaking very theoretically. In the real world, there will be no peace. In practical terms, the various Arab regimes have nothing to gain from ''peace'' - hostility to Israel serves them too well as does anti-Americanism. In any case, Islam as an ideology cannot accept the existence of a sovereign Jewish state.
    Our problem is really how to get rid of the Arabs, in particular, the Israeli Arabs, a slightly less priority on the Arabs of the West Bank. If we don't get rid of the enemy Fifth Column within Israel, we will end up like Lebanon. This is an issue which is avoided, covered up with liberal BS rhetoric, for the most part, we are in denial.
    Most sane people know the ''peace process'' is a sham, a charade.
    But the inner dynamics of Israeli politics, our rather dysfunctional political system, pulls every successive gov't. including the current Netanyahu coalition, into supporting some kind of ''peace process''.
    Objectively, we have higher priorities than the Palestinians, Iran & it's proxies on the security side, overhaul of the political system & educational reform on the domestic side.

  3. I'm speaking in terms of what a legitimate peace process would be

    of course I agree with you in practice

  4. Anonymous16/8/09

    Excellent Piece.

    I especially agree that any deal should
    involve all Arab countries, especially Jordan.
    More to the point, Jews need to be compensated in equal manner for the billions of dollars they left behind in Arab countries, when they were forced to flee during 1948.

    If only Israel had the courage to make this specific
    demand the peace process would be exposed for the sham that it really is.

  5. Morry Rotenberg16/8/09

    With all due respect Sultan, Israel really doesn't need peace with the arabs. It has prospered despite the lack of peace like no other country in that dysfunctional part of the world. It has in fact prospered like no other country except the USA for that matter. Read George Gilder's new book "The Israel Test." He lays out a thorough expose of what Israel has become and what it will be in the future.
    Peace will come when the arabs value the quality and length of their own and their children's lives more than they hate the Jews.
    Until then all the diplomatic political correctness and enabling the enemies of peace by the "enlightened" western powers just gives Israel that much more time to become stronger and stronger.

  6. Although Egypt and Israel have formal diplomatic relations, it is really a "cold" peace. In order for a genuine peace process to germinate, it will probably take another Mid-East regional war to show Arabs that fighting Israel is futile. And even that might not be enough to get intransient Arab nations to recognize Israel's right to exist as Jewish state.

  7. Morry,

    I agree that Israel does not need a piece of paper. Its "peaces" have always been cold peaces, based on the Arab nations realizing that conquering it is futile. My goal in this article was to provide an example of what an honest mutual peace process would look like.

  8. Marc,

    that might well be so. But at this point the Arab nationalism of the past has given way to the Islamic radicalism of nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia, so the old kind of wars and treaties are no longer relevant.

  9. Great article on how peace could theoretically be achieved assuming there was a level playing field and both sides genuinely wanted peace.

    Of course Israel wants peace, the Arab nations don't want it at all. If they're not fighting Jews they're fighting each other.

  10. Possibly the process is not as complicated as it might seem. Whatever part of the West Bank Israel decides to give up should be under the control of Jordan. The Gaza Strip should be under the control of Egypt. The UN (United States) should give them whatever help they need to control the areas in question. The governments of Jordan and Egypt may have serious problems but not as great as the creation of a terrorist state between Israel, Jordan and Egypt. And, it is the best long term interest of both Jordan and Egypt.

  11. wayne17/8/09

    No one seems to be addressing the fact that, for any useful discussion regarding territorial sovereignty for a Palestinian state, it's entirely reasonable to demand that Egypt and Jordan contribute land--not Israel. These are 'displaced Palestinians'--really, just useful idiots for the purposes of terrorism, but people nonetheless, and they are not an Israeli problem. They are a muslim problem.

  12. Haven't you missed the most important factor, namely, the ideology of Islam? In its essence, this conflict is an Islamic war on the Jews in general and against the existence of Israel, in particular. The entire Moslem world is against the existence of Israel. The Islamic Republic of Iran, which has absolutely nothing in common with the Palestinian Arabs -- except Islam -- threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The Hamas charter quotes Muhammad in its call for genocide against the Jews and the obliteration of Israel. One way or the other, the question of Islam's religious rejection of Israel's right to exist must be dealth with.

  13. naturally, but there is no way to "deal" with Islam, which is one reason why no peace process will accomplish very much


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