The Peace Process
By: Professor Druks
There can be no peace or a peace process as long as there is war.
The Search for Peace
The peace process has been going on since Abraham's time, but since his time there's been war.
From Moses to David :
For some 700 years the people of Israel negotiated, fought and negotiated with the variety of peoples in the region of the Middle East. King David unified and established its capital in Jerusalem. The power of David and his armies persuaded the peoples of the area to make peace. King Solomon solidified those victories through treaties reinforced through marriage contracts.
But once the Kingdom became divided and thereby weakened the enemies of Israel were able to overtake Israel. the enemies of Israel were able to overtake Israel. First the northern kingdom was overrun by the Assyrians and then Judah was conquered by Babylonia.
When Israel was restored and rebuilt some fifty years after the Babylonian exile it was done through diplomacy and power. The Persian authorities replaced the Babylonians and they were persuaded that Israel would be a loyal ally. But when some of the exiles got back they found that the local populations did not wish to see them restore Jerusalem. Prophets Ezra and Nehemiah tell us that the forces of Israel had to build with one hand and defend themselves with the other. While some built others defended the builders and the community. So it was in Israel and so it is in Israel today.
The survival of Israel has depended upon their faith in the Creator and in their ability to defend themselves. But when Israel had no land and no armies it was open to attack. The history of the Churban from 1933 to 1945 provides the best illustration of Israel's helplessness. The Germans and their allies were able to kill six million of the Jewish people because they were defenseless and homeless. They had no armies and no country to defend them. Had not the Allies ( Britain, Russia and the United States ) not defeated the Axis then the Germans would have pursued the Jews until none would be left.
The Peace Process 1920-1939
The League of Nations mandated the Holy Land to Britain. By 1921 British officials determined that Palestine had to be divided in order to separate Jews and Arabs from one another. Jews were to be in the western part of the Holy Land while the Arabs were to be in Trans-Jordan. That division was to achieve peace. But that did not end the conflict. The British then imposed further partitions and peace settlements from 1931 to 1936 to 1939. All of these peace settlements divided the western Land of Israel still further and deprived the Jews of their land and security. By the British White Paper of 1939 Jews were locked out of the Land of Israel.
Chaim Weizmann and David Ben Gurion of the Jewish Agency believed that if they would cooperate with the British they would achieve peace. But in the end, all that happened was that the Arabs gained entrance into the land and the Jewish people were left out in the cold of Warsaw, Berlin, Bialystock, Babi Yar, Treblinka, Auschwitz...
Once the Jewish state won its independence in 1948 the pressure was placed on Israel by Britain, the U.S. and others to yield its hard won territories to the Arabs and to accept the return of Palestinian refugees that numbered somewhere between 150,000 and 250,000. Israel accepted 50,000 and was prepared to accept another 50,000 in return for a final peace settlement with the Arabs. It would not surrender to the American sponsored Johnson plan which called for the repatriation of all the Palestinians. It was President Kennedy who realized that the Johnson plan would not work , especially since Israel would not surrender to it.
Israel called for face to face negotiations with the Arabs. Britain's P.M., Sir Anthony Eden called upon Israel to surrender the Negev in return for peace. The formula was Land for Peace as apparently it is today. President Eisenhower of the United States echoed the British position. The Negev constituted 2/3 of Israel proper.
War in 1956
Arab terrorism from 1949 until 1956 ultimately brought on war between Israel and Egypt. Now Egypt was supported by the Soviet Union. The Israelis had some support from Britain and France. Israel defeated Egypt and acquired the Sinai for the 2nd time in recent history. Because of American and Soviet pressures Israel was forced to yield the Sinai, but this did not bring peace. But this Land for Peace settlement did not even bring a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, no less peace in the area of the Middle East.
Arab terrorism was resumed and the arms race continued. Because it was outnumbered Israel pursued the development of highly sophisticated weapons, including an ability to develop and assemble atomic weapons. President Kennedy tried to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. He tried to have regular inspections of Israeli's nuclear facilities,but he realized that Israel would not yield to anyone's pressures in this respect. Perhaps he realized that it was Israel's deterrent against an all out Arab invasion of Israel.
The treaty commitments to Israel of 1957 were broken and forgotten as Egypt imposed a blockade against Israel's port of Eilat and Egypt thereby resumed a state of war. Israel tried to persuade those who had committed themselves to keep their promises but to no avail. Not the U.N., the U.S., France or Britain were prepared to fulfill their commitments to break such a blockade and to secure Israel's rights to freedom of the seas. Israel struck and struck hard and within six days destroyed the armies of Egypt, Syria and Transjordan as well as a few other Arab armies. Israel reacquired the Sinai, Old Jerusalem, Samaria and Judea and the Golan Heights.
From 1967 there were attempts by Israel to persuade the Arabs to meet at the conference table and work on peace. Their response was to demand that Israel return to 1947 frontiers, to a time when there was no modern state of Israel. And the Arabs demanded that Israel repatriate the Palestinian refugees whose numbers apparently swelled to two million. Once Israel would meet those two conditions then the Arabs would talk peace.
There can be no peace process as long as there is war.
Since time immemorial Arabs and Jews have been at odds. Often they have been at war. At times there has been talk of peace. Since the Six-Day War the so-called peace process has been promoted by the United States and some of the European states.
In 1973, the so-called search for peace was interrupted by an Egyptian- Syrian invasion of Israel. In the week before the war of Yom Kippur 1973, Israel tried to communicate to Egypt through the U.S. that it had no intention of making war and that it wanted to pursue direct peace negotiations.
From late October 1973 through 1975 there were disengagement talks between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Syria. The defeated Arab states, backed by Secretary of State Kissinger and Presidents Nixon and Ford, would not agree to disengage unless Israel agreed to surrender territories in the Sinai and the Golan Heights areas.
Not before the Sadat-Begin meetings in Jerusalem in 1977 was there face to face negotiations between a head of state in the Arab world and an Israeli Prime Minister. Those first series of negotiations were resumed at Camp David.
Camp David :
At Camp David P.M. Begin agreed to Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai and to autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs. A peace was concluded with Egypt in 1978 and Israel withdrew in stages from the Sinai.
But the War Continued :
The terrorist war against Israel and the Jewish people continued. One of the main terrorist bases of operation was Lebanon. In 1978 and in 1982 Israel launched major offensive operations against the P.L.O. and other terrorist groups in the Lebanon. Israel defeated the terrorists and their Syrian backers, but in 1982 the surviving terrorists were escorted out of Lebanon with the help of such countries as the United States, Britain and France. President Reagan had said that the "scourge" of terrorism had to be wiped out and yet he authorized U.S. forces to help save the P.L.O. terrorists.
The U.S. joined Israel in denouncing terrorism and yet the U.S. to relate to such elements as the P.L.O.
In 1987 the P.L.O. launched a new phase of its terrorist war against Israel. It was called the Intifada . In addition to rocket attacks, bombs on buses, hijacking of planes and ships, it now sent stone throwing women and children against Israeli troops. Israeli forces could have wiped out the P.L.O., but the various governments of Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin used caution, water hoses, gas bombs and rubber bullets.
As an outcrop of the P.L.O. - Fatah war against Israel there emerged a more right wing and perhaps more fanatic terrorist group known as Hisbalah and Hamas. They were part of the Arab Fundamentalist movement throughout the Arab world. In recent days it has been reported by the New York Times that Fundamentalists were responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat.
The administrations of L.B.J., Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and William Jefferson Clinton urged Israel to continue its negotiations with the Arabs and to grant, at first or at least, autonomy to the Palestinians and then they seemed to a Palestinian Authority state.
Secretly, Israeli representatives and P.L.O. met in places like Oslo and concluded agreements for the continuation of the Peace Process. Ultimately Mr. Clinton played host to the Arafat and Rabin meeting.
Heavy pressures were placed on Israel by the U.S. on Israel not to establish any new settlements in the territories & to yield territories in Samaria and Judea as well as Gaza to the P.L.O. that went by the name Palestinian Authority. Apparently,the U.S. agreed with Israel that Jerusalem should be a united city under Israel control. But the U.S. still did not move its embassy to Jerusalem. The American embassy is to be found in Tel Aviv. Arafat and his P.A. agreed to discontinue their war against Israel and to hold the Arabs within their jurisdiction in check but neither promises were kept by Arafat.
This arrangement seemed appealing to the government of Yitzhak Rabin and the Peace Now movement, that represented a segment of the more secularist Israeli population. They believed that the Palestinian Arabs should be given their independence. Premier Rabin now was willing to grant them their self-rule and apparently was prepared to surrender much of the Golan Heights. When Rabin had been Prime Minister in 1975 he refused to yield the Sinai oil fields and the Gidi and Mitla passes to Egypt. Now, with Shimon Peres as his Foreign Minister, Rabin apparently was willing to yield parts of Samaria and Judea as well as parts of the Golan Heights.
Peace was concluded with King Hussein of Jordan and there was a spirit of optimism in the air.
Rabin was assassinated by a right wing Israeli Jew who despised Rabin for his policies, but the peace a process continued by the newly elected Likud Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Chances For Peace.
The P.L.O. has not yet stricken phrases from its charter which call for the elimination of Israel and yet it continues to demand that Israeli yield some additional 13 percent of Samaria and Judea and it insists that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian Arab state.
Israel has achieved a number of things through the Peace Process. The Intifada is over. It has a number of agreements signed by Arafat that declare an end to terrorism against Israel.
But it has failed to achieve its goals. The Arafat forces have not controlled terrorism against Israel. The P.A. has not been able or willing to control Hamas and Hisbalah. Peres and Rabin believed that through the peace process Israel could let Arafat deal with the nearly two million Arabs in Gaza and Samara-Judea. They had hoped that Arafat would control and deal with the Fundamentalists. But it did not work out that way. The peace process has been too fragile and uncertain. It has been a matter of give by Israel and take by the Arabs. The benefits Israel obtained from the peace process so far are very limited and they remain very uncertain.
The Great Uncertainties :
As long as the Fundamentalist Arab elements and regimes continue their extremism and their war against Israel there can be no peace and the peace process is nothing more than phantasy. As long as Moslem countries like Iraq, Pakistan and Iran continue to seek nuclear weaponry and other weapons of mass destruction Israel must retain its territorial security.
Those of us who have lived or even just toured Israel know how small it is. Without territory of some kind there is no state. The Arabs still have more than 25 states of their own. Tranjordan was taken from the Land of Israel in 1920 in order to provide the Palestinian Arabs with a place. But that seems to have been forgotten by the diplomatists of the East and the West.
Peace now is not enough unless there is a stabilized and peaceful situation. If there is a so-called Peace Now it may mean that there will be no Israel tomorrow. Israel has to secure its sovereignty and independence. Surrender of lands and the creation of yet another unstable political entity may not bring that yearned for peace.
Israel is divided and as such it may not be able to sustain the pressures from such friends as the United States even though it may be able to deal with the pressures and forces of its enemies.
To survive all this Israel must have faith in its Creator and its traditions of humanity and peoplehood as well as faith in its ability to defend itself. With one hand they rebuilt and with the other they defended themselves.
There are some Israelis in our time who are prepared to continue in the footsteps of Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin and surrender more of ISrael's incredibly tiny land. They demonstrated in the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday, September 12, l998. They demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Netanyahu, just a similar crowd in Tel Aviv had demanded the resignation of Begin in 1982 during the war in Lebanon.
It seems that for some individuals the surrender of land in return for peace now is more important that secure frontiers. But as long as human nature remains what it is today peace cannot be achieved through weakness and division.
A nation needs to be united and determined to secure its survival. Surrender to terrorism and tyrants has never brought peace and it will in all likelihood never bring peace.
Two thousand years of human history have proven the word of man to be, for the most part, unreliable. States cannot afford to sacrifice their security for the words of "former" terrorists, not even the words of some Presidents of the United States.
Secure and defensible frontiers as well as a workable land entity must be the goal of a people in possession of its reason, reality and sanity.
Peace now, only if its a realistic, reliable, defendable and sane peace for all concerned.
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