How to bring back peace to the Middle East
I have reflected deeply on the present Middle East impasse and my heart bleeds with the increasing realization that the World is once more at the verge of loosing a big opportunity provided by the Barrack Obama Presidency in the United States to make a breakthrough. I am looking at the Present impasse in the proposed Peace talk between Israel and Palestine. At the Last count it appears the latest announcement of plans by Israel to build 50,000 more housing units in the occupied territories has drawn the ire of stakeholders including the United States which is feeling insulted by this brazen plan at such a delicate period. Consequently all the high hopes that heralded the two state solution proposed by the US and accepted by both sides seem to die each day because of Israeli intransigence over its territorial ambition and so it appears from the outset. While the Palestinians are ready to accept the existence of an Israeli State, it appears that Israel is reciprocating grudgingly with conditions that Jerusalem remains its undivided territory. In continuing building plans Israel seems to be saying that it was not ready for peace talks which will demand some concession from both sides.
However looking at it deeply, one can see the very root of this impasse cannot be attributed to settlement activities because that is part of the status quo which is to be looked into. It is presumptuous of any side to this talk to pretend there was no status quo or to begin to appropriate already what the outcome of the talks would bring. It is this widespread belief that United Nations Resolutions have any binding powers as to look up to them as yard stick for the coming peace talks. That would be misleading because these resolutions have been disobeyed by both sides at one time and the other and does not have such binding effect on sovereign nations. Yes it may have built up a moral dilemma for Israel the Nation with higher default record. One thing remains very clear that these resolutions have so far failed to bring peace to the Middle East, and some attribute it to faulty judicial mechanism from earlier mediators. When you have an interest you cannot sit in judgment without bias. The united Nation Was seen as not properly constituted to give unbiased judgment because it panders to the values of one side of the litigation. These assumptions, whether true or false, depends on the particular worldview of the person in question and so the differences lingered.
The two State Solution which considers that both sides have rights to self determination, thereby downplaying right or wrong considerations which seems to be the bane of past efforts, is not entirely new on the table but what made it look new was the repackaging of the Obama administration and fueled by the new found confidence that the United States for once would be more unbiased in its dealing with both sides. Of course everyone knows the commitments of the US to Israel and knows that she remains Americas ally in the Region but we also know where President Obama is coming from. So hopes went high and I was one of the voices that warned very early about reducing the yardstick for the summit by considering irrelevant politically motivated signs like settlement issues instead of pursuing higher ideals of peace as bases for progress of both sides. I had submitted that Universal values should be considered and that the US should get commitment of both sides to these values before supporting a summit. These values transcend religion and will dissolve all ethnic considerations at the outset.
Looked at strictly, the two state solution would mean that both states belong to no one. These States are secular and transcend religion. Universally acceptable human laws will govern both states, the Laws of Nature. Religious practices can be subsumed under the State but not the other way round. So both the Jewish and Christian Religions will maintain their sacred sites under the local administrations and even their distinct languages and cultures. On the other hand the Muslim and other religions can co-exist in their own holy sites and recognized by the local governments as well as the two nationalities.
Since the whole of Middle East thrives in the pilgrimage and tourism these three Major Global religions bring to it, there is no reason to deny any tourist the chance to visit these sites because of political dichotomy or religious differences between nations. In a globalised world that would be tantamount to an economic suicide. In that broad spectrum the peace talk will consider the overall economic benefit of free enterprise, democracy and openness for the emergent states of Israel and Palestine. The indirect talks would be getting the two sides to agree that the society they wish to build would imbibe the core values of openness, secularity, free enterprise, and democracy. Why this consideration because the two states must coexist peacefully in a globalised world. The two sides need the input of tourists from all over the world as well as investors to grow their economy so they must aim to build a cosmopolitan society to accommodate all stakeholders. With these tenets in view why would you care if Israel decides to provide all the buildings in the two States after all it may turn out that these buildings may revert to Palestine after the talks and would become a bonus instead of a loss.
The mistake made by the United States is not clearly stating these conditions from the outset to both sides and publicizing it widely so that public debate would ensure as a strategy of reducing the opposition of all stakeholders to the idea. In fact it is not an idea which one can chose from many arrayed out on the table. It is the only way. If it takes mankind another decade to come to grips to this solution and to implement it unswervingly, then we can for certain declare that the Middle East impasse will be resolved in ten years. The reason is simple. Only the application of natural laws will bring Peace and growth to all joint volition of mankind. These Natural laws are easy to verify. Just consider that man was created by one creator whatever you call Him does not matter and we have not seen him except in the image of what he created. That image is man, complete with unique features and needs. These features accentuate the needs and bring about universal senses. Everyman has the mouth, nose brain, hands, feet, body, head, skin, etc. We all hunger and thirst, we aspire and fulfill, and we learn and grow. We have these common features which should unite us at a higher level. Unfortunately we look down on the secondary features arising from these basic ones and which are only accustomed to our environment such as culture, religion tribe and nationality as the primary basis of our existence and so we perpetuate conflict through the differences we emphasize. So I warned the Obama administration to push primarily for consensus agreement on these basic issues failing which there should be no summit since it would amount to a waste of time and resources. I hope this article will help resurrect that genuine effort for a lasting peace in the Middle East along the path outlined. I hope we will not begin to dig into trenches by looking lower to what each side did or are doing prior to the peace talks thereby missing the greater opportunity before us. I hope that the issue of settlement construction will no longer block our vision of the ultimate glory that lies ahead.
Mr. Nworisara, an expert in International Relations wrote in from Port Harcourt Nigeria.