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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Peace first

Peace first
Peace should precede democratization, security and economic development
Uri Savir Published:  01.08.07, 17:35

We all want peace. However, the main problem is that we view peace as a consequence of other processes and do not relate to it as an independent entity that could move processes forward.
There are those who maintain, such as President Bush for example, that democracy constitutes a condition for peace. This doctrine is based on the rationale that contends that if people are free they will inevitably opt for peace.
However, reality has proven this doctrine wrong. In Afghanistan and Iraq the Americans did indeed establish democratic regimes, yet terror there reigns free, more so than in the past.
This holds true for our region as well. Free elections were held in Lebanon and in the Palestinian Authority, whereas in Egypt and Jordan the regimes are not free. And where does peace reign? Surprisingly, it reigns between Israel and the non-democratic regimes, while in the two aforementioned democracies war and terror are widespread.
Therefore, the theory contending that democracy should precede peace does not stand the test of reality.
Many people in Israel believe that security should be a precondition for peace. Here too, the historic reality doesn't go hand in hand with this theory. Achieving relative security vis-à-vis Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority did not result in peace. On the other hand, peace with Egypt stemmed from the Yom Kippur War, namely from a situation void of security, and it was this situation that ultimately led to security with Egypt.
Since the signing of the peace agreement with Egypt, not a single Israeli soldier was killed on the Egyptian border. Therefore, the theory contending that "security should precede peace" is unfounded.
Some people maintain that as the economy is a crucial factor in molding public opinion, economic development will subsequently lead to peace. Despite the rationale of this theory, it is difficult to implement because economic development cannot be undertaken without conditions for peace.
 When a conflict takes place, there is no regional cooperation, a fact that makes public and international sectors refrain from investing in the area of conflict. Therefore, the theory maintaining that economic development should come first is also unfounded.
Integrative approach
So what conclusions should we reach? When we seek to achieve prosperity and security we should accelerate the peace process with our Palestinian and Syrian neighbors and not subject these processes to unrealistic conditions related to democracy, security and economic development.
When embarking on a peace process we should adopt an integrative approach that include elements of co-existence, economic development, security and diplomacy while also consolidating reforms that would decentralize the peace effort from the central government to civilian society and also to the local authorities.

Modern peace must be capable of influencing the stances of the societies involved in the conflict. As peace cannot be forced upon a people, we would do well to try and influence the motivation of societies to forsake the circle of conflict. This calls for the development of a gradual process of culture and peace, public relations for peace, economic development and creative diplomacy. Undoubtedly, these processes must commence with a peace initiative.
Neither democratization or security nor economic development – first peace!
Uri Savir, the President of the Peres Center for Peace, is currently in the process of publishing his book "First Peace" by the Yedioth Ahronoth publishing house

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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