Staff Editorial: More needed for peace than the Annapolis conference
As politicians discussed peace at the Annapolis conference and new methods were proposed for resolving the dismal Palestine-Israel conflict, thousands of protestors in Palestine rallied together to boycott the conference.
It’s not that Palestinians do not want peace. The argument against the conference is warranted – past treaties suppressed Palestinian rights and Palestinians fear another treaty will further alienate them from the rights they seek.
The final document, to be hammered into a treaty within 13 months, mentions a potential state for Palestinians. But what concerns most Palestinians is the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, the release of Palestinian prisoners and the fate of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
All this hugging, goodwill and handshaking will not change the situation on the ground in Palestine where one anti-conference protestor was fatally shot and 15 were injured during clashes with Fatah security forces in Hebron. The Fatah-dominated Palestine Authority and Mahmoud Abbas’ cabinet, banned public demonstrations on the day of the conference, yet despite the ban hundreds of protestors turned out in defiance in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, where many demonstrators were beaten and detained.
So as the world watches a peace treaty in the making, Palestinians are more divided than ever, and Hamas and Fatah supporters continue to clash with each other. How then, will peace be solidified into a formula if Palestinians cannot be at peace with themselves?
There will be many challenges ahead. Hamas declared the conference "a waste of time" and labeled Abbas a traitor. Forty-four nations were invited to the conference, along with various United Nations delegates and European Union commissioners. Nations such as Slovenia and Senegal were invited, but deposed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was not. If peace is truly wanted, Haniyeh should have been there; Gaza, though undeniably alienated and sanctioned, is still part of Palestine and their pejorative conditions need to be addressed.
Palestinians need their own state, but this won’t establish a peaceful solution to the ever-increasing or fundamental problem – U.S. aid needs to be fair and balanced to both Israel and Palestine. Until the U.S. reassesses its process, there won’t be any peace.
What the Palestinians need is political unity, and not the scripted engagements of peace conferences.
The meeting has reaffirmed that both sides are willing to reach a consensus, but so far the negotiators have failed to make any substantial headway in finally settling the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict.
So much for peace in the Middle East, for now.