14 June 2005
International Media Seminar on Peace in Middle East Opens in Cairo
Secretary-General’s Message: It Is Urgent to Take Advantage of Revived Spirit of Cooperation and Keep Eyes on Objective of Two States, Israel and Palestine
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
CAIRO, 13 June -- The thirteenth International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East opened in Cairo this morning, hearing from speakers who urged the need to use recent developments in the Middle East to reinvigorate the peace process in order to reach a two-State final comprehensive solution.
The Seminar which is entitled “Reinvigorating the Peace Process: the Role of International and Regional Actors in Facilitating a Comprehensive, Just and Lasting Peace in the Middle East”, is organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information, in cooperation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Egypt.
In a message to the Seminar, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that despite the improved political situation in the region, there had also been a slow but steady increase in violent incidents in recent weeks, underlining the fragility of the moment. He said that this only made it more urgent, despite hardship and fear, to take advantage of the revived spirit of cooperation and to keep eyes on the long-standing objective: two States, Israel and a sovereign, viable, contiguous and democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
Ahmed Fathalla, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Relations, delivering the statement of Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said there existed today a great and promising opportunity, namely that there now existed an international Arab-Israeli consensus that the solution was based on two States living side by side in security and peace. This was an opportunity that might not be repeated in the near future.
Shashi Tharoor, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, the moderator of the Seminar, said in welcoming remarks that this was the thirteenth in a series of international media seminars which the Department of Public Information organized at the instruction of the General Assembly. The objective of the United Nations was not only to sensitise the people about the question of Palestine but also to provide impetus and support for a dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, to help them sustain their hopes and visions for a peaceful future and perhaps even to contribute to the realization of those hopes.
Ghassan Al-Khatib, the Minister of Planning of the Palestinian National Authority, said new developments had put us at cross roads, either to use these developments and move from the bloody conflict to negotiations, or to miss them and return to a more rigorous state of violence. The most important development was that the two parties had managed to achieve a ceasefire and to put a limit to the killings and counter killings. But he said one of the policies which was of most danger to peace was the unilateral approach and policy exercised by the Israeli Government.
Alvaro de Soto, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, said in the keynote address that today, the world was at the threshold of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, a step which could bring a two-State solution closer. It was no accident that the Quartet had called this moment hopeful and promising, while qualifying it almost in the same breath as fragile.
Shulamit Aloni, a former Israeli Knesset member, said that if people believed that the so-called evacuation from Gaza was an opening for closing the illegal settlements in the West bank, this was a dream. In practise, Israel was building more and more settlements.
Following the statements, a panel discussion was held entitled “Ending the Stalemate: Is there a Paradigm Shift?” in which Aaron David Miller, President of Seeds of Peace in Washington and Adviser to the past six United States Secretaries of State on Arab-Israeli negotiations, and Ilan Pappe, Senior Lecturer of Political Science at Haifa University in Israel, participated. A question and answer session was also held.
The President of the Afro-Asian Lawyers Federation for Human Rights, Esmat Elmerghany, presented to the United Nations Secretary-General a plaque in appreciation of his role as the diplomatic personality of the year and for his efforts in the field of human rights.
A message by Paul Badji, the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of Palestinian People, was distributed. In the message, Mr. Badji noted that the continuing desperate situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the worsening socio-economic conditions of Palestinians, called for robust measures that would result in concrete progress in peace negotiations, as well as immediate, visible and tangible improvements on the lives of ordinary Palestinians.
When the Seminar reconvenes this afternoon, it will hold a panel discussion on “Security, Palestinian Institutional Reform and Economic Support”.
Message of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan
SHASHI THAROOR, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, reading out the message of KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, which said that since the last media seminar on peace in the Middle East, the political situation in the region had improved, thanks to the historic Palestinian elections in January, Palestinian security reforms, the understandings reached at Sharm el-Sheikh and the preparations for an Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. Unfortunately, there had also been a slow but steady increase in violent incidents in recent weeks, underlining the fragility of the moment. That only made it more urgent that, despite hardship and fear, advantage was taken of the revived spirit of cooperation and eyes were kept on the long-standing objective: two States, Israel and a sovereign, viable, contiguous and democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
The Secretary-General’s message said that he had urged Palestinians to do more to prevent acts of violence and terror. He had also continued to stress the need to avoid unilateral actions, such as the Israeli barrier and continued settlement expansion, that could prejudice the resolution of final status issues or the implementation of UN resolutions. When the peace process was moving forward, much seemed possible. But when it stood still, the parties were actually moving backward, as positions hardened, resentment built, opportunities were missed, and the slightest provocation or misunderstanding risked sparking great damage. Such had been the experience, all too often, with the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
In conclusion, Mr. Annan said the people of the Middle East were now approaching a number of important turning points. With help from their regional and international partners, they could prevent a slide back into conflict and confrontation. And with help from the responsible media – media that refrained from myths, stereotypes and hate propaganda – they could avoid inflaming an already volatile climate. Everyone should do their part to make recent events a new start on the road towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Message from Chairman of Committee on Exercise of Inalienable Rights of Palestinian People
PAUL BADJI, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of Palestinian People, said that with the initiative and leadership of the Government of Egypt, the crucial Summit between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had taken place in Sharm el-Sheikh last February. The success of the Summit had injected optimism and hope for the reinvigoration of the peace process. The Committee was encouraged that there were talks of coordination between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority on ensuring that the disengagement proceeded successfully and would contribute to the implementation of further steps towards the vision of the Road Map.
Mr. Badji’s message said the continuing expansion of settlements and the construction of the wall, which had been repeatedly declared illegal by the international community, only further inflamed feelings of frustration and anger on the part of the Palestinians. The continuing desperate situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the worsening socio-economic conditions of Palestinians, called for robust measures that would result in concrete progress in peace negotiations, as well as immediate, visible and tangible be improvements on the lives of ordinary Palestinians. The international community’s support was needed now as ever before.
AHMAD FATHALLAHA, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Relations, delivering the statement by AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Foreign Minister of Egypt, said the Seminar met today at an historic juncture in the history of the Palestinian question which had captured the attention of the world for more than half a century, a period marked by moments of despair and moments of hope, times of war and times of peace, stages of confrontation and stages of cooperation. However, the conclusion everyone sought remained unattainable, indeed distant, thus rendering this issue into a striking example of lost opportunities and a source of frustration for all parties. Today, there was a great and promising opportunity, namely that there now existed an international Arab-Israeli consensus that the solution was based on two States living side-by-side in security and peace. There was also a sincere Palestinian desire to reach a just and lasting peace by means of negotiations; an Arab initiative endorsed by all Arab countries that welcomed forging normal relations with Israel providing that it withdraw from all the occupied Arab territories and that it reach a settlement concerning Palestinian refugees in keeping with UN resolutions and international law; and indications that Israeli leaders were aware that the policy of settlements and occupation would not bring about security or peace. This was an opportunity that might not be repeated in the near future.
At this juncture, the Foreign Minister’s statement said, Egypt sought to consecrate the following elements which it deemed necessary if existing efforts were to bear fruit. These included, among others, the need to install calm and confidence between the Palestinian and Israeli parties, to achieve internal Palestinian unity, and to welcome the Israeli disengagement plan as an initial step for withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories. This withdrawal should be comprehensive. Simultaneous with these steps, there were other important criteria in order to widen this current window of opportunity. These included that all movement should be geared towards clear-cut political prospects that reflected the fact that the parties were acting within a framework that would lead to a lasting and just peace for the Palestinian issue on the basis of two States, Palestine and Israel, in accordance with United Nations resolutions and international law. Also, there was a need to consolidate the current tranquillity, to link the Israeli disengagement plan to the Road Map, and to mobilize aid in order to revive the Palestinian economy.
In conclusion, the Foreign Minister said the road ahead was still long, and obstacles abounded but Egypt believed that a true will could achieve the impossible.
SHASHI THAROOR, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, said he was very pleased on behalf of the United Nations to welcome everyone to the thirteenth in a series of international media seminars which the Department of Public Information organized at the instruction of the General Assembly. This was the first time the Seminar was being held in the Middle East and he hoped that this was a good omen for prospects for peace in the region. The objective of the United Nations was not only to sensitize the people about the question of Palestine but also to provide impetus and support for a dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, to help them sustain their hopes and visions for a peaceful future and perhaps even to contribute to the realization of those hopes.
Mr. Tharoor said the Seminar was taking place at a time when – broadly speaking – recent events in the Middle East had raised the prospects, and even heightened the opportunity, for a peaceful solution to this long-lasting conflict. The prospects offered by the Road Map, a performance-based and goal-driven peace plan elaborated by the so-called “Quartet” of the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations, were clouded by the developments on the ground, most notably a spiral of violence that dogged progress. There had been some significant developments on both sides of the aisle. This was a hopeful and promising time for both Palestinians and Israelis. That was not to say that the world should be complacent. The road ahead was still bumpy and it would not be easy to overcome a number of thorny issues that had long divided the two communities and prevented a final resolution to the conflict.
The focus of the Cairo Seminar was on the role of international and regional actors in facilitating a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Now was an opportune moment to give thought to this role and perhaps forge a common front to assist the parties to regain confidence in their peace partners, to reinvigorate the process and to advance discussion of the two-State solution and a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This was a media Seminar and it was hoped that by discussing these matters with the media, the Seminar could help them to broadcast a message to the people on both sides of the region’s broadest divide that could advance the peace process.
GHASSAN AL-KHATIB, Minister of Planning of the Palestinian National Authority, said there had been a lot of talk recently about the opportunities that must be utilized to reach peace in the Middle East. New developments had put us at cross roads, either to use these opportunities and move from the bloody conflict to negotiations, or to miss them and return to a more rigorous state of violence. The most important development was that the two parties had managed to achieve a ceasefire and to put a limit to the killings and counter killings. Both parties were committed to this ceasefire, although there had been some violations. But they had not taken the next step to move to the political negotiations as a means to reach the legitimate objectives. The first of the needs was to build on the ceasefire and to move to negotiations which would help both Palestinians and Israelis. On the other hand, independent studies referred to the strong relation between the economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and the increase in the spirit of extremism, violence and hatred. It was extremely important to reduce the unemployment rate, which affected a third of the labour force, and to improve the economic situation. Israel’s actions which put limits on the movement of goods and movements did not help. Another factor which caused the collapse of stabilization was the Israeli settlement policy which Palestinians saw as a means to strengthen the occupation. Palestinians believed that negotiations and the peace process should bring an end to occupation. The Palestinian leadership was endeavouring to create a favourable climate, using the two-track policy of building democracy and ongoing reforms.
Mr. Al-Khatib said that one of the policies which was of most danger to peace was the unilateral approach and policy exercised by the Israeli Government. This policy included the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza while settlement expansion policies in the West Bank were being strengthened. Israel was turning Gaza into a big prison. All the talks to convince Israel to couple its withdrawal from Gaza with mainstreaming movement of goods and persons between Gaza and the West Bank had failed. The outcome was not encouraging. In order to seize the opportunity, there had to be a return to negotiations and a stop to the expansion of settlements. Also, the withdrawal from Gaza had to be the beginning of the withdrawal of Israel from all the occupied territories. This was the responsibility not only of Israel and the Palestinians but also of all the regional and international parties.
SHULAMIT ALONI, Former Israeli Knesset Member, said that keeping silent about relations between the oppressor and the oppressed, and the occupier and the occupied, was a crime by itself. There had been a holiday in Israel for the past three days and the Israelis had been enjoying these holidays, while many Palestinians were under curfew. In the past four years, Israel had destroyed the infrastructure in most places and they had become like detention camps. Many of the other speakers were optimistic. But people who knew her knew that what she said was not always so politically correct. If people believed that the so-called evacuation from Gaza was an opening for closing the illegal settlements in the West bank, this was a dream. In practise, Israel was building more and more settlements. The President of the United States said Israel had the right to defend itself, but it seemed that it was necessary to uproot trees and destroy wells and turn villages into detention camps to do this. Israel was continuing to build settlements in the West Bank. As long as the Palestinians received only “blah blah” as help, maybe when the Messiah arrived, then there would be a Palestinian State.
Ms. Aloni said if the Seminar believed in human rights, it must tell the United States President that Palestinians were human beings and not all Palestinians were terrorists. Collective punishment could not continue. Israel was building many new roads to the settlements, and Palestinians were forbidden to use these roads. Sixty years ago, before the war of independence, the Israeli people were the terrorists, but they believed that they were freedom fighters. After World War II, people believed that there should be freedom and sovereignty. Arab countries and the United Nations should interfere. Also, the President of the United States must remember that the Palestinians under occupation were treated like second-rate humans. Only pessimistic people could bring hope.
ALVARO DE SOTO, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, said in the keynote address that today, the world was at the threshold of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, a step which could bring a two-State solution closer. It was no accident that the Quartet had called this moment hopeful and promising, while qualifying it almost in the same breath as fragile.
Mr. de Soto said he referred to the moment at hand as one of qualified hope. Having taken up his new responsibilities only a fortnight ago, he was still listening far more than speaking. He hoped the audience would give him some latitude in his preliminary comments. A challenging set of panel discussions was foreseen in the agenda of the Seminar: the question of whether there was a paradigm shift regarding ending the stalemate; security, Palestinian institutional reform and economic support; and whether the Road Map provided the answer to the need for international and regional efforts for a constructive change in the Middle East. This was much food for thought and plenty on which reasonable people could differ. The oft-tread question of the role of the media in peace and conflict between Israel and Palestine was bringing together eminent practitioners of the trade, and he could only hope that media attention would contribute to reinvigorating the peace process.
The Quartet was initiated by the United Nations and it first came together in April 2002, Mr. de Soto said. It brought together the representatives of the four extra-regional actors most intimately involved in peace making in the Middle East: the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations. The Quartet did not just focus on the Israeli-Palestinian track, but indeed it addressed the wider Arab-Israeli conflict. The Quartet was also reflective of what kind of role the international community could play. It focused its energy primarily on facilitating a process. The Quartet’s role was not to impose. Ultimately, it was the parties that had to make the moves. In a nutshell, the Quartet provided assistance in two ways: by providing a framework for the achievement of the two-State vision, and by giving support to realize it in practical terms and to underpin the framework.
Mr. de Soto said there existed a fundamental belief in the right of the Palestinians to their independence and self-determination, to live in dignity and free from occupation. There was also belief in the fundamental right of Israel to exist in full and permanent security. These two basic principles could be reconciled in one common vision – that of two States. Since the beginning of the year, the level of violence had decreased significantly. The Palestinians had elected and were electing new leaders, and the parties were reportedly making progress towards coordinating Israel’s withdrawal which envisaged, for the first time since 1967, the removal of Israel settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. It was of crucial importance that neither side should make the mistake of underestimating the difficulty of the current juncture of the other. Although born as a unilateral plan and outside the scope of the Road Map, it was possible to weave the Israeli initiative to withdraw from Gaza and the northern West Bank into the Road Map, as it fitted into the broader process of building confidence and moving towards permanent status negotiations. However, the intrinsic value of withdrawal could remain ephemeral if it did not become part of the broader effort to reinvigorate the peace process. The parties needed to seize the opportunity on hand and ensure that full potential was exploited.
Panel on Ending Stalemate: Is there a Paradigm Shift?
SHASHI THAROOR, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, said the theme of the first panel discussion was “Ending the Stalemate: Is there a Paradigm Shift”. There seemed to be two distinct views of the dynamics currently unfolding in the Middle East. One group would have it that the paradigm of the conflict had clearly shifted as a result of the death of President Arafat and the democratic election of President Mahmoud Abbas on the Palestinian side, and of the planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank on the Israeli side. Another group of observers were far less confident that these recent developments had fundamentally shifted the divide that existed between Israelis and Palestinians, and so had a far less optimistic prognosis, one that did not see an end to the conflict in the foreseeable future. The first panel discussion would examine the question of whether the paradigm had shifted to the extent that the stalemate could be broken and new impetus could be given to the peace process.
AARON DAVID MILLER, President of Seeds of Peace, Washington, Adviser to the past six United States Secretaries of State on Arab-Israeli Negotiations (1988-2003), said that he had had the honour over a period of 25 years of providing advice to six Secretaries of State until he had resigned in January 2003. His assessment this morning was largely a negative one but he believed fundamentally as an American that it was absolutely critical that people spoke openly and honestly about what was possible and what was not. Over the course of the past 20 years, too many illusions had been entertained. There was neither time nor space left to engage in such illusions. He did not believe that his negative assessment was inevitable, but unless the American, Israeli and Palestinian leaders took advantage of whatever limited opportunities existed, then the future that he would describe was inevitable.
Mr. Miller said that the world was in the middle of a fundamental shift in the paradigm that had governed the conflict. He would describe what had been, what was now and what would be. He saw three basic approaches or games. The first game was the one that had governed Arab-Israeli negotiations for 20 years, a notion that a conflict ending agreement was possible that met the needs of both sides, either brokered or arrived at by Israel and Palestine, including agreement to resolve the core issues of territory, Jerusalem, refugees and security. This was the old game. Between 1993 and 2000, the old game became much less relevant, it was alive but not well. Its failure gave rise to a second game, the interim game. This came in many forms like the Gaza withdrawal, limited redeployment, a Palestinian State with provisional borders, and significant Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank. This was only a management strategy, not a conflict ending solution. If the interim game failed, and he would argue that it could only fail, then the new game was the terrifying game of history and the future and it was characterized by increasing demographic pressures, fragmentation of Palestinian politics and the so-called Mogadishu syndrome where the Palestinian Authority no longer had political and security control, and increasing fragmentation of Israeli politics. The new game also included the prospect of a one-State solution to the conflict. Today, these three games co-existed uneasily, and no single one was dominant. But within the next five years, if something was not done to direct a national and cohesive solution, one of them, probably the third, would rise to dominate.
ILAN PAPPE, Senior Lecturer of Political Science at Haifa University in Israel, said he would continue in the same pessimistic tone. There had been no change in the paradigm in the business of peacemaking since the inception of the question. The paradigm underlying the peace process was the paradigm of parity and equality, two sides equally responsible for the outbreak of the conflict and which were expected to share responsibility to resolve it. The reality on the ground was one of disparity. First it was the imbalance between the colonizer and the colonized, then the gap between the oppressor and the oppressed. After 1967, it was the conflict between the occupier and the occupied. The peace proposals, including those endorsed by the United Nations, reflected the tension between the proposals and the realities on the ground.
Mr. Pappe said the peace proposals had failed to locate the heart of the conflict, the Palestinian refugee problem since 1948, and were looking for solutions in other areas. Although the United Nations recognized in resolution 194 of 1948 the right of Palestinians to return to their homes as the heart of the conflict, this acknowledgement had never returned. This resolution provided the only possibility for a future solution. Peace proposals had also failed to acknowledge the fact that in 1948, the Jewish State was created over 80 per cent of Palestine. The paradigm of peace since then had shrunk Palestine into the West Bank and Gaza, 20 per cent of what it used to be. And today, it was 15 per cent of what it used to be. Probably in the minds of the Quartet, Palestine was now the Gaza strip and the part of the West Bank that Israeli policies decided was not needed for the existence of Israel. What mattered was that even 100 per cent of the West Bank was not Palestine. A solution of Palestine today was without any viable reference to the problem of refugees which was the heart of the conflict, and without any reference to the reality on the ground in Jerusalem.
Mr. Pappe said time was running out. What was needed now was a new paradigm, a paradigm change. He had three “A’s”. The first “A” was acknowledgement. Without Israeli acknowledgement of the ethnic cleansing carried out in 1948, there was little hope for peace. The second “A” was accountability. Those who had carried out the expulsions had to be accountable for what they had done. The third “A” was acceptance, acceptance of the Arab World and Palestinians of a Jewish polity in the midst of the Arab world, despite years of bloodshed and war. But for that to happen, Israel had to decide to become part of the Middle East, not the front base of the United States.
GHASSAN AL-KHATIB, Minister of Planning of the Palestinian National Authority, said he wanted to bring attention to one essential aspect of what was happening in the course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which was the unilateral nature of the recent developments. This was an aspect which had not been picked up in a proper way by the media. It was a most dangerous aspect of the current reality. Unilateral practices had been undertaken by Israel not only on the issue of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza but had been a character of Israeli politics everywhere in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel was going to evacuate 2,500 houses from Gaza, but it was also building 6,400 new housing units in the West Bank. Palestinians saw the whole comprehensive picture. Also what was happening in Gaza was transferring Gaza into a big prison. After the withdrawal, the Israeli army planned to put Gaza under siege.
Mr. Al-Khatib said recent contacts between Israel and the Palestinians had finally given the Palestinians answers to their questions. Israel refused safe and free passage and movement of persons and goods, Israel refused to have the Palestinians construct a new port in Gaza, Israel refused the request to re-build and activate the airport in Gaza, and Israel refused any Palestinian role in the crossing points between Gaza and Egypt. Given these aspects of the Israeli position, there was little reason for optimism regarding the total outcome. That was why the Palestinian Authority was urging the international community and the Quartet to do something practical to bring Israel into compliance with the understandings of the international community in a comprehensive manner. If there was serious intervention through the Quartet, led by the United States, then there was a chance.
ALVARO DE SOTO, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, said he agreed with Mr. Pappe that there had not been a change in paradigm. But he did not agree with the result of his ideas. The paradigm that existed now was well established. However, he had to say that not every element of it was carved in stone, it needed to be negotiated. What the world was seeing now was a possible break in the stalemate that hopefully would lead back to the kind of negotiations which were needed. The stalemate breaker was the unilateral Israeli decision to withdraw from Gaza and the northern West Bank. There was a considerable question on whether there was an agreed paradigm on either side, amongst Palestinians and Israelis regarding what should be a solution. What he found to be very alluring in his very short time in the region was the variety and liveliness of the internal debate taking place. There were crucial differences. As the region approached possible groundbreaking developments, a polarization of positions was not a bad thing. Mr. Al-Khatib had emphasized the critical importance of a more active third party role. It was quite clear to him that left to their own devices, the parties would find it extremely difficult. That was precisely the reason for which the third party role, as embodied by the various players in the Quartet, was necessary. The United Nations Secretary-General brought with him a considerable context of values and goals which had to be taken account of in the efforts.
A question was asked about Mr. Miller’s three games. A speaker said he admired Mr. Pappe’s honest stand, but did not agree with his conclusion that unless Israel accepted being part of the Arab world, it would end up like the Crusaders. Another participant said he had just returned from Palestine and he was suffering exactly as the Palestinians were suffering because there was complete silence regarding what was taking place in the occupied land. Questions were also asked about the settlement issue and the role of the third party. One speaker contended that Israelis and Arabs should work in solidarity because they were not enemies but brothers who were being used by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
In response, Mr. Miller said he believed in the forces of history, but not in conspiracy. He believed in the triumph of humans in taking opportunities and turning them into reality. He believed that the world’s most compelling ideology was success because it bred power. The reason why his three games appeared to be linear was because what he called the old game had not succeeded, and that was why it had given way to the interim game which he believed would ultimately fail and give rise to the new game. It was not too late, but the future was looking very grim. The only solution was two States, any other would fail to address the needs of the two parties. Israel and the Palestinians had a proximity problem which was the basis of their conflict. As long as it was not addressed, there would be a protracted confrontation.
Mr. Pappe said that he disagreed with Mr. Miller because he believed that the demographics on the ground and other issues defeated the possibility of two States. The views that he presented were not shared by many Israeli Jews. Unfortunately, most of the views in Israel were driven by fear and power. The two Palestinian intifadas had taught the Israelis the limits of their nuclear power, their tanks, and unlimited support from the United States. Maybe more violence would make Israel get the message that being part of the Middle East did not mean being the strongest power but meant being accepted. As for the misery and daily experiences which the Palestinians lived in, many Israelis were aware of this. However there was a denial mechanism in Israel which helped Israelis deny what they did in 1948 and what they were doing today. Israel would only change its mind when it realized that there was a price to be paid.
Mr. Tharoor said that the United Nations deeply regretted that invitations sent to representatives of the Israeli Government had not been accepted as the United Nations welcomed the opportunity for dialogue. It was regrettable that the panel was not hearing from another side of Israeli politics.
Mr. de Soto said he had felt that the question on the third parties was more rhetorical than a question. He had described the role that the United Nations saw for the question, assisting the parties and providing a framework, but ultimately it was the parties which must reach a solution. One of the issues which had to be resolved was how to make the Palestinian State which emerged from this sovereign, viable, contiguous and democratic.
AARON DAVID MILLER, President of Seeds of Peace, Washington, Adviser to the past six United States Secretaries of State on Arab-Israeli Negotiations (1988-2003), speaking in a special address entitled “The United States at Camp David July 2000: Lessons for the Future”, said that it would be the fifth anniversary of the Camp David summit this year. The debate on the role of the United States and who lost the debate at Camp David was important and relevant because of the lessons which could be derived from it for the future. He was one of the 12 Americans who had been present at the Camp David, and there were at least 10 accounts of what had happened there. He would not talk about the huge Palestinian and Israeli mistakes, but he would outline the three core mistakes that the United States had made. The United States had created an environment based on the misreading of the situation. The United States had to think about this because if this situation ever came up again, it had to be avoided.
Mr. Miller said during the Oslo period, the United States had failed to understand how the situation on the ground and the erosion of trust and confidence as a result of these actions had been so damaging and destructive. This had happened because of domestic policies. That was the first mistake. The second mistake was that the United States had lost control of its policy, largely to the Israelis. The third mistake was having a world summit which the parties were not ready for. These three issues had to be addressed if the United States was to have an effective role in the future. The Arab-Israeli conflict was a legitimate conflict and there needed to be requirements which were addressed. The United States had to be tough but fair and it had to understand the real needs of the parties. Negotiations had to be based on a balance of interests, not on a balance of power.
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