Israel has missed Arab peace offers

Israel has missed Arab peace offers

With the permission of Zeev Raphael, a retiree from the Technion who continues to live in Haifa, I’m sharing his unpublished letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Post, which he entitled “Our Collective Slumber” and submitted on Aug. 8:
Israeli intelligence estimates that among the 50,000 rockets in Hizbullah’s arsenal,
at least a few hundred can reach Tel Aviv.”

The above is one of repeated warnings that we have been receiving lately from our Civil Defence leadership.  If nothing else, then surely this should arouse us from our ongoing collective slumber.

In a scathing attack on Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, Jerusalem Post Senior Editor Caroline Glick recently summed up the threats that Israel is facing at the present time, ranging from President Obama’s withdrawal of the US as the predominant power in the Middle East, via the Muslim Brotherhood’s rising power in Egypt, to the growing instability of the Syrian and Jordanian regimes. 

We are thus being confronted with a series of events that indicate a global ‘power shift’.   We are living in a changing world, and it would evidently be wise for us to attempt achieving integration into this Region while the power balance may still be in our favour.

It may be argued that “this is all very well, but how can we possibly ‘integrate’ in the region, if the other side refuses to accept us?”  After all, are we not regularly being told by our politicians that the goal of the Palestinians is ‘Palestinian sovereignty over the entire area’?  And that even ‘the most moderate elements’ of the Palestinian leadership insist on the right of the refugees and their descendants to return to their former homes in Israel.

Some of us may recall that an Arab/Muslim Peace Initiative has been on record for close to a decade.   They  ─ more than 50 Arab and Muslim states!─  offer us “the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel”. 

Close to three years ago, the PLO published full page advertisements in the Israeli press, headed “Arab Peace Initiative:  57 Arab and Muslim Countries will Establish Full Diplomatic and Normal Relations with Israel in Return for Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Ending the Occupation”.  (Jerusalem Post,  21 November 2008.)

To date, we have not heard of any attempt on our part, to examine just how serious our Arab partners may be with their Initiative.   It would not be unreasonable to expect of our political leadership, a more creative and less megalomaniac approach to the acute problems of our existence here.

But no, instead of attempting to clarify the intentions of the Arabs, we are being brainwashed with the argument that they demand to solve the Palestinian Refugee problem “in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194”.   And don’t we all know it: Resolution 194 stated that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so”.  

However, what our leadership fails to tell us is that the present Initiative speaks of “a just solution to the Palestinian Refugee problem  to be agreed upon”.   One may logically ask, what could be more in our national interest than a “just and agreed upon solution” to the festering Palestinian Refugee problem?

And what would be more befitting than an official Israeli Government declaration:  “The Israeli Government welcomes the Arab Peace Initiative.  We propose to call a top level conference designed to clarify some of the elements included in that Initiative” ─  or words to that effect?

But no; instead of that, we are being indoctrinated into believing that ‘they’ simply refuse to accept us here.  ‘They’ want it all, and ‘they’ wish to flood Israel with Arab refugees.

In view of the recent popular uprisings in our region,- in the neighbouring Arab countries as well as here at home, against the price of cottage cheese and the high cost of housing,-  one cannot fail to be astonished at the ongoing lethargy displayed by our Israeli public.

An ever increasing number of former senior Defence officials are voicing their concern in public.  Shimon Peres, the President of Israel, recently expressed it thus:

“We’re about to crash into the wall.  We’re galloping at full speed
toward a situation where Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state.”
Once before, more than 40 years ago, we missed an opportunity: 
“… I do not agree … that we have taken all possible initiatives concerning peace. … I do not agree that every initiative which might have been taken, was indeed taken … Would it not have been prudent on our part to react officially to [President Nasser’s] words? …”
Knesset Records, 26 May 1970.
Those were the words of former Hagana Commander Moshe Carmel.  The remarks were made with reference to peace feelers from King Hussein and President Nasser.   But those were the heydays of the Greater Israel Movement, and nobody paid attention to MK Carmel’s words. [This basically concurs with my view of “missed opportunities”–Seliger] Three years later we lived through the Yom Kippur war. And after a further five years Menachem Begin signed the Peace Treaty with Egypt, ─ on terms similar to those that we so arrogantly had dismissed eight years earlier.  Greater foresight might have spared us the tragedies of 1973 … 

I am concerned about the future of our army-aged grandchildren.  They will have to pay the price for our ongoing follies–and of the next conflagration.

Zeev Raphael, Haifa

By | 2011-08-29T13:35:00-04:00 August 29th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

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