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“Winning Formula for Peace”

By Henk Kamsteeg

“We have the ‘winning formula’ for peace in the Middle East,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of crucial diplomatic talks in Europe. “We need a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel. Recognition is the pillar of peace,” Netanyahu told reporters after the one hour meeting with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
On the disputed issue of the Israeli settlements, Netanyahu said he hoped to find a ‘”bridging formula” that would enable residents already living there to lead a “normal life.” At the moment some 500,000 Jews live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem so-called ‘settlements,’ among 2.5 million Palestinians. The land was captured by Israel in the 1967 war and Israel insists its undecided status means the settlements are legal. But Palestinians view them as constituting the theft of their homeland, and believe that new settlement building further jeopardizes their prospects of establishing an independent state.

At a British press conference Netanyahu said that Israel is working hard to advance a peace process that will lead to an actual peace result and hopes to move forward in the weeks and months ahead.
“We are not waiting. My government has already removed many checkpoints and roadblocks. I have extended the time of passage on the Allenby Bridge on the Jordan River in order to facilitate movement in and out of the Palestinian territories. We’ve moved on the ground.

“I’ve also moved not merely in deed but in word. I have spoken about the need to achieve this balance of a demilitarized Palestinian state next to a Jewish state and I think that this has resonated far and wide. It wasn’t easy to do. But this is what we have done in the short period of time – the four months that we’re in office.
We expect similar movement from the Palestinian Authority and certainly based on what we’ve seen in the recent Fatah conference there has NOT been that movement; that’s an understatement.

“But, there has to be not merely a partner on the other side, there has to be a courageous partner, because I think we’ve shown a certain amount of fortitude and leadership and that’s what’s required from the Palestinian side. They have to say unequivocally, `it’s over.` We are going to make a real peace.
“It’ll be a final peace. It will be a peace that will end all claims to further conflict. It will be a peace that will resolve the Palestinian refugee issue once and for all and just as Jews can come to Israel, Palestinians can come to the Palestinian state. But, not in Israel, because there has to be a Jewish state and if we’re asked to recognize a Palestinian state as the nation state of the Palestinian people, it is absolutely essential that the Palestinian leadership says to the Palestinian people, `you will have to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”

Why, after 60 years of seeking peace, is Israel still seen as the sole obstacle to peace in the Middle East? Why, alone among the almost 200 nations that comprise the United Nations, is Israel the only one whose very right to be is still called into question? Why is Israel blamed for almost every problem afflicting the 21st century?

Only if the Arab world guarantees the demilitarization and Israel’s security needs and recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, only then we would see a future peace agreement at the horizon. But if this will happen, only God knows.

Tiny Israel has been threatened by war for most of its existence. However, the prophet Isaiah predicts that the triumph of biblical faith will bring a peace the world has never known, when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD (Isaiah 2:4,5).