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Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Importance of Peace
The saga never seems to end as the one side accuses the other side of aggression and the retaliations carry on unabated. The firing of Qassam Rockets into Sderot on Wednesday killed Faina (Fatima) Slutzker, 57, a Sderot resident. The wounded included one of Defense Minister Amir Peretz's guards, Maor Peretz, and a 17-year-old boy. All this acceleration of violence was explained as retaliation for the killing of 19 people in Bet Hanun, Gaza. Israel. The killing of 19 people was a tragic accident! The tragedy goes beyond words. The Palestinians do not trust the Israelis and they will not accept Israel’s apologies.The retaliations by Qassam rockets are no less tragic. This brings home the message even further of the importance of ending this pointless bloodshed and starting a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
The hate between Israelis and Palestinians goes so deep that on the outside it seems impossible to bring both sides together in meaningful negotiations. Both sides are busy engaging one another in a fight which nobody can ever win.

There is yet another peace initiative by Spain, France and Italy. Does this area need another peace initiative which will not be acceptable? Saeb Arekat, a veteran Palestinian negotiator aptly said, “Do we really need to re-invent the wheel?” He is right! There is such an abundance of Peace Plans, none of which seems to be acceptable by the one side or the other.

The original Road Map Plan is dead and its chances of revival are slim indeed. Hamas is remaining stubborn in not recognizing Israel’s right to exist. It demands a great challenge on the part of Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians when their Hamas leadership is so adamant. It is the desire of Hamas to wear Israel down as much as possible so that it will cease to exist. They accept the fact that they will not succeed in this in the short run, but in the end they will be victorious. They have stated that.

Under these conditions, it is difficult if not impossible to even start any form of negotiations. How do we, Israelis and Palestinians, overcome this obstacle of obstinacy? It seems a “Catch 22” situation with no winners only losers and increased suffering for the Palestinians and for the Israelis as the carnage of blood continues.

We now have to find a way, even unofficially, to end the conflict. Both Israel and Palestine do not have imaginative leadership that is capable of making peace. Perhaps, we, the common people – Palestinians and Israelis – victims of circumstances of which we have no control, must develop ways of communicating with one another, understanding one another’s tragic history and using our past as a pillar to build a future together. Both sides have suffered injustices! We cannot forever live in our past, we owe it to our future generations to build a decent future so that Israelis and Palestinians remain in this area to build it up and strengthen it. We need professional Palestinians here to build a viable Palestinian state that can take its place amongst the world of nations alongside Israel and living in peace for the benefit of both sides. What a wonderful part of the world this area could be! If Palestinians and Israelis lived in peace, trading with each other and helping one another, this area would be so different to what it is today.
Today, with the Internet and advanced means of communication, ordinary Israelis and Palestinians have a powerful means to make peace. We can communicate with each other using the advanced technology available which is beyond the borders of governmental control. We can join dialogue groups in order to chat amongst ourselves. We need that and it can be turned into a powerful tool that could sway governmental decisions on both sides of the great divide in the future. It often happens that in the height of despair, great things can be achieved by both sides. That is the human spirit and I do believe that both peoples have that.

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