Now Itís Israelís Turn to Prove Partnership
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Once again, the Palestinians are demanded to prove their good intentions and their willingness towards making peace, and once again Israel stands aside and waits for the Palestinians to fulfill their commitments and to verify that they are partners. Why is all the burden of proof only put on the new Palestinian leadership to take serious steps on the ground? According to what Israel says, only after changes take place on the ground will Israel decide if there is a Palestinian partner. All of this at the same time that the Israeli Prime Minister has not demonstrated his willingness and good intentions Ė is the Prime Minister of Israel a partner to the Palestinians for peace?
Promises and speeches are all that the Palestinians receive. Where are the reciprocal steps by the Israeli leadership to coincide with the Palestinian steps? The Palestinian leadership has proven that it is implementing policies of advancing democracy in order to gain the legitimacy and the respect for the choice of the people. The new leadership has been holding intensive rounds of dialogue and consultations with all of the Palestinian factions in order to gain consensus and support for a new political program to advance peace.
Israel has to take this opportunity as well in implementing steps that will clearly demonstrate good intentions towards the Palestinian people. Israel should prove to the Palestinians and to the world that it intends to live in peace with the Palestinians, not as occupiers, but as neighbors, living side-by-side in mutual respect. Israel should take its part in proving good will and intentions by releasing the political prisoners, removing roadblocks and significantly and substantially easing the daily lives of the Palestinian people. Israel should seriously work on reducing the tension between the two nations. This should include putting an end to policies of collective punishment. Israel must immediately stop its policy of assassinations. Israel must understand that the occupation of Palestine must come to an end and it must return to the negotiating table to reach an agreement on final status from the point where the negotiations ended in Taba.
Israel has made statements that it will enable Palestinians Jerusalemites to participate in the upcoming elections, but nothing has been done to allow the voter registration process in Jerusalem to continue and to be completed. Palestinian Jerusalemites must have the ability to practice their legitimate rights to elect their representatives as part of the Palestinian people. Prohibiting the entry of Palestinian candidates to Jerusalem, as occurred just yesterday, must cease. All Palestinian candidates must be able to reach their voters and practice their rights in campaigning without obstacles and without been harassed and obstructed from reaching all of their voters freely.
Why should Israel contribute in changing the current bitter reality and to switch towards peace road? No new Palestinian leadership, whoever it is, will be able to implement its full responsibilities and obligations while Israel still insists on implementing policies that are viewed by Palestinians as aiming to destroy the Palestinian people. We all should have learned the lessons of the past by now - what we are witnessing and what we had experienced is that whenever there were new chances of change and signs for breaking the impasse, Israel has destroyed these chances and prevents us from moving forward. This is how the Palestinian people view the situation and for them, this fact causes them to wonder if there is an Israeli partner for peace?
The Palestinian leadership is proving everyday, inside of Palestine and throughout the world, including in Arab capitals and in Palestinian refugee camps outside of Palestine, that they are committed to making peace with Israel. The new leadership is working on building a new Palestinian consensus for moving forward. Now it is the time for the Government of Israel to step forward and demonstrate that it too is really interested in making peace with Palestine.
Khaled Duzdar is the Co-Director of IPCRI, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information
[email protected] www.ipcri.org