Tuesday, May 23, 2006

[ePalestine] BAHOUR & DAHAN: A Will, a Way and a Partner

A Will, a Way and a Partner 

The U.S. must not entertain ideas of unilateral action regarding Palestine

By Sam Bahour and Michael Dahan (news)      
Published on 2006-05-23 10:52 (KST)

Every newly elected Israeli Prime Minister, for as long as we can remember, has immediately boarded a plane and made a bee line to Washington D.C. Ehud Olmert is no different. Olmert is on his way to meet the self-proclaimed caretaker of the "emerging" State of Palestine, U.S. President George W. Bush. 

Ignoring the advice of Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, "Instead of traveling to Washington and Cairo, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should have gone to Ramallah first." (Ha'aretz, "Game Theory"), Olmert found it more important to get his marching orders from Washington, rather than engage a Palestinian leader -- one of the few credible ones left -- who publicly expressed his willingness to meet and find a way out of the current crisis over a negotiating table. Olmert it would seem is trying to peddle further unilateral plans, and is hoping to receive the blessings of Washington. 

It appears that Prime Minister Olmert is in no rush to assist the Palestinians in putting the brakes on what is amounting to the self destruction of the Palestinian Authority. Let alone the natural breakdown of a society that 40 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinians is bound to cause, many analysts and others, especially Palestinians in Gaza, now believe that the internal strife that has taken a dangerous path in Gaza is in essence at least a partial result of the unilateral Israeli Disengagement Plan. A plan that the world, at the time, hailed as a ground breaking political breakthrough by the now incapacitated Ariel Sharon, is now looking more like a plan to impose a solution on the Palestinians, forcefully and unilaterally. 

Any further unilateral actions will lead to more if not complete chaos, and perhaps the complete breakdown of Palestinian governance. Furthermore, all indications point to the fact that the chaos will not remain confined to the open air cages that the Israelis have created out of Palestinians cities and villages, but will also spill over into increasingly violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis. 

It is this reality of increasing threats of wide spread violence that has Israelis, and Palestinians alike, wondering why Olmert did not accept the Palestinian president's outstretched hand and immediately meet to start a process that can only bring some light to a bleak daily routine of killing, bombing, and destruction. As time goes by, it would seem that there is no Israeli partner for peace. Indeed, had Israel not isolated the Palestinian president prior to the elections in the Palestinian Authority, it is likely that Hamas would not have won the elections. Thus, by refusing to negotiate directly with the Palestinians, it would seem that Israel's only intention is to increase the chaos in the West Bank and Gaza. 

On the eve of his visit, one of Olmert's last actions was to authorize yet another assassination of a Palestinian in Gaza. As is becoming the norm, innocents were killed as well, in what is mildly referred to as "collateral damage." The latest extrajudicial assassination happened to also kill a boy, his mother and a female relative. Don't look for their names in your media; Palestinian deaths are merely counted, not named. For the record they were Hanan Aman, 32, her four-year-old son Mohannad and a female relative Naima Hamdi Aman, 25. 

These three and the latest assassinated Palestinian, Mohammed Dadouh, join scores more in a six year killing spree, including 11 Israelis killed in the most recent suicide bombing. May they all rest in peace. These assassinations serve only to contribute to hatred, a thirst for revenge, and further instability. Even senior generals in the Israeli military have begun to question the wisdom of this policy. 

To those giving the orders, pulling the triggers and dropping the bombs, we would like to remind that International Law prohibits without exception, the extrajudicial killing of protected persons. Israel's policy of "targeted" assassination clearly amounts to intentional or willful extrajudicial killing, constituting a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are thus subject to international criminal prosecution. 

The U.S. must not entertain ideas of unilateral actions, nor should it allow Israel to do so. The only way out of the violence is to directly negotiate a settlement that will touch directly upon the key issues, and eventually lead to the creation of a truly independent Palestinian state as prescribed in numerous U.N. resolutions. The U.S. will find that the quicker it moves on the Israeli Palestinian issue, the easier it will be to deal with other problems in the area. Dealing with Iraq and Iran would be infinitely more simple were progress to be made on the Israeli front. Considering the new Israeli cabinet, Olmert has the political support necessary to conduct direct negotiations with the Palestinians. It is only a matter of wishing to do so. 

The 40 year Israeli military occupation of Palestinians and 58 years of ongoing Palestinian dispossession at the hands of the State of Israel has brought us to a point of total despair. The time is past to nip the bud of the conflict by ending the occupation. This should be the message President Bush passes to Prime Minister Olmert along with clear financial and political ramifications if the advice is not heeded.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the Occupied Palestinian City of El-Bireh/Ramallah and can be reached at sbahour@palnet.com .

Dr. Michael Dahan is an Israeli-American political scientist living in Jerusalem and teaching at an Israeli University and can be reached at mdahan@attglobal.net .

© 2006 Ohmynews


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