military defeat in Lebanon, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is attempting to woo
Beirut, offering to negotiate over the Shebaa Farms as a precursor to a
possible peace treaty. In response, his Lebanese counterpart Fouad Siniora
promised Lebanon would be the last Arab country to sign a peace deal with
undoubtedly preferable to enmity as a rule but, in this case, Siniora is right
to refuse Israeli overtures.
�Let it be clear,
we are not seeking any agreement until there is a just and comprehensive peace
based on the Arab initiative," he stated at the end of last month.
From the Israeli
perspective a peace deal with Lebanon would be quite a coup. First, it wouldn�t
have to worry about Hezbollah�s rockets any longer but, equally important,
Lebanon would provide a friendly buffer between northern Israel and Syria.
This would mean
Israel would have amicable relations with all its neighbors apart from the
occupied territories and Syria on the other side of the occupied Golan Heights.
Thus, its military
arm would be strengthened with one less hostile front with which to contend,
the Palestinians would be left even more in the cold than they already have
been, while Syria would be effectively isolated with any future bargaining
power concerning the Golan severely reduced.
Minister Tzipi Livni said: �It�s not that Lebanon does not want to enter the
peace process. Syria would probably not let her do it."
Indeed, if Lebanon
were to sign up to such a process, it�s more than likely Syria would seal its
border crossings leaving northern Lebanon landlocked and forcing it to rely on
Israel for the import and export of goods by road. Given Israel�s record of
closing its frontiers at a whim, this would leave the Lebanese at Israel�s
Syria has for
several years indicated its readiness to talk peace based on the return of the
Golan and has been rejected every time. So it seems that the Israeli government
is being deliberately divisive as there is nothing preventing it from offering
to negotiate simultaneously with Lebanon and Syria if peace and security were
genuinely its true objective.
In truth, Israel
desires pieces of land far more than peace. It doesn�t mind handing over the
tiny Shebaa Farms area to Lebanon if push comes to shove.
However, it has
always considered hanging on to the Golan Heights a strategic necessity.
It�s a similar land
grab story in the West Bank where Israel�s apartheid wall has gobbled up
swathes of Palestinian land and where Israel�s illegal colonies are scheduled
to expand in spite of calls from the international community to halt
And now that
Olmert�s so-called �convergence plan� has landed on the garbage heap of broken
promises, it may be only a matter of time before Israel comes up with a pretext
to reoccupy Gaza.
says it still adheres to the �road map� that is looking more and more like a
figment of the American president�s imagination, pulled out of his baseball cap
to bring hesitant countries on board the invasion of Iraq. Israelis say this is
the only game in town.
In reality, there
is another option that would bring permanent peace not only to Israel but also
to the entire region. It�s an enhanced version of the plan fielded by Saudi
Arabia during the 2002 Arab League Summit held in Beirut, based on a two-state
solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and the principle of land for peace.
It�s a wonderful
opportunity for Israel because it is backed by all 22 members of the Arab
response has been lukewarm but as Jordan�s King Abdallah recently told Time
magazine, �Do Israelis want to have to still walk out of their houses with an
Uzi on their shoulder� and �do mothers still have to worry whether or not their
children are going to come back safely from a mall or a restaurant?�
�We need to know
from the Israelis right now their long-term vision of what they see as peace.
Is this going to be fortress Israel? Or is Israel going to be integrated into
There is no doubt
that Arab nations have decided to become more proactive when it comes to their
own affairs, perhaps having decided that the US has little semblance to an
honest broker, while interest shown by Britain�s Tony Blair has more to do with
his political legacy than serious heartfelt commitment.
We saw the results
of this new unity of Arab purpose when a delegation, consisting of the Foreign
Ministers of the UAE and Qatar, joined Arab League chief Amr Moussa in making
direct representation to the UN Security Council in respect of Lebanon�s rights
under UN Resolution 1701.
Arabs now need to
unify so as to put pressure on Israel to behave like a responsible component of
this region and to this end it would behoove Egypt and Jordan -- countries that
have signed peace agreements with Israel -- to threaten the severing of
In fact, during the
recent conflict a number of Egyptian parliamentarians called for just that.
When then Egyptian
President Anwar Sadat made his historic flight to Tel Aviv in 1977, on what he
called his �sacred mission,� he handed the Israelis an olive branch in hopes
that all Arab nations would follow suit. With the exception of Jordan some 17
years later, this never happened.
In light of
worsening Israeli aggression perhaps it is time for Egypt and Jordan to
reevaluate those treaties. Israel should be given the choice: All or nothing.
Peace with all its neighbors or with none.
As one of the
region�s most moderate pro-Western leaders King Abdallah of Jordan recently
said, �All of us in the area, including the Israelis, are feeling more and more
insecure. Nobody knows where this is taking us. The peace camp needs to turn
the boat around in the other direction. If not, we sink, all of us."
Still in shock from
the unnecessary devastation wrought upon it, with its people still dying from
cluster bombs sprinkled by Israel all over the south in the final hours of the
conflict, Lebanon thankfully isn�t falling for Israel�s divisive tactics.
Palestinians, the Lebanese need the political, economic and moral support of their
Arab cousins, who hopefully will reach the conclusion, albeit belatedly, it�s
all for one and one for all.
S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes
feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.