As Alon Liel, a former Israeli diplomat and an expert on Turkey, says via NPR, the recent uprisings throughout the Middle East have “given the Arab publics a voice,” with many expressing anger at the Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territory. Says Liel:
“The whole region is rejecting us. It’s like a body rejecting a transplant.”
“Ten years ago we had relations with nine Muslim countries. The Moroccans were here, the Tunisians were here. Qatar, Oman, Mauritania, they are all gone. We stayed with three that are now dropping us — Turkey Egypt and Jordan — so we’ve never had such a crisis, we’ve never had such an extent of isolation in the Middle East since Israel was founded.”
Palestinians Express Hope About Bid For Statehood
Among Palestinians in a refugee camp in Kalandia between Ramallah and Jerusalem on the West Bank, the prospect of seeking statehood in the UN is engaging people who had become “deeply cynical” after 20 years of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, says the New York Times. Store owners and motorists are displaying flags with the campaign logo “U.N. Palestine State No. 194,” a reference to the Palestinian bid to be the 194th member of the UN.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has called for peaceful rallies to be held in the center of Palestinian cities — “far from any friction points with the Israelis” — on September 21, the opening of the UN general debate and on September 23, when Abbas is scheduled to address the general assembly. Abbas has called for “no confrontations, no chaos” and brought in Abdallah Abu Rahma, a nonviolence advocate and a leader of the popular resistance movement from Bilin, a West Bank village, to coordinate the “Palestine 194″ campaign. Abu Rahma referred directly to the wave of political uprisings that have occurred throughout the Arab world starting last December in Tunisia:
“We are trying to be like the Arab Spring to bring large numbers of Palestinians into the squares.”
Carter on the Mideast Peace Process
In the New York Times, former president Jimmy Carter notes that, while the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel have remained in place, “key provisions of the Camp David Accords have been ignored.” Specifically,
Following the death of Sadat, President Hosni Mubarak did not press for Palestinian rights, though most of the Egyptian people have continued to insist that Israel honor these commitments. The primary subject of concern is the continued occupation by Israel of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the building of Israeli settlements on confiscated Palestinian land.
President Barack Obama acknowledged the centrality of this issue in a major speech in Cairo in March 2009, when he called for a freeze on all settlement activity. Later, in May 2009, President Obama declared that the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — adjusted to account for some Israeli settlements near Jerusalem — should be the basis of a peace agreement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected both proposals, continued building settlements, and raised unacceptable new demands for a permanent military presence in the Jordan River valley and recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” (about 25 percent of Israeli citizens are non-Jewish).
The US, says Carter, has “basically withdrawn from active participation in the peace process” and Palestinians and other Arabs have interpreted this to mean that the US is “acquiescing on the occupation and biased against them.” Feeling they have no alternative, the Palestinians are making their UN request.
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Photo of Kalandia by boellstiftung
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