By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Jonathan Peled believes that the international community has an important role to play in helping to reach Mideast peace, mainly, to butt out and let the Palestinians and Israelis find their own solution to the 70-year-old conflict.
“Without a doubt, the only way to resolve the conflict is through direct, face-to-face talks between Israel and those in the Palestinian camp who are willing to recognize us and sit down and negotiate with us,” he told Pulse News Mexico earlier this week.
“The role of the international community is to support a direct process between the two sides and to try to convince those on the Palestinian side and in the Arab World that there is no other alternative but to recognize the state of Israel and to sit down and establish a dialogue with it.”
Peled went on to say that “no one else can come in and resolve our problems, any more than some other country can come in and resolve Mexico’s problems.”
But while Peled maintained that it is the “duty, right and responsibility” of each government to settle its own conflicts, outside meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle has been standard practice practically since the conflict began.
From Oslo to Cairo, Moscow to Washington, over the last seven decades, practically every foreign entity with a seat at the international table has tried to broker its own vision of Mideast peace and superimpose it on the Israelis and Palestinians.
But, as Peled so astutely pointed out, trying to foist an externally-drafted solution onto an internal fracas – especially one as complex and multifarious as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – it futile at best and perilous at worst.
As Peled noted, the key issue at this stage of the would-be negotiations is the steadfast refusal of some Palestinian groups to even recognize Israel, particularly the Hamas-led factions that currently control the majority of the Gaza Strip.
“The position of Israel is and has been very clear: the establishment of a two states for two people,” Peled said.
“But this requires the recognition from the other side of the right of Israel to exist. And that is what we have not seen on the part of Gaza and Hamas.”
Peled likewise said that Israelis are not ready to accept two Palestinian states, which is the de facto status of the disputed territories today, with the West Bank under the control of the Palestinian Authority and a splintered Gaza intimidated into submission by Hamas.
“As it stands now, there is a terrorist entity in Gaza that is threatening the Palestinians in the West Bank, the Egyptians (who are supposed to be their brothers), and, of course, Israel. And that is a common denominator that threatens everyone.”
Peled said that to reach peace, the Palestinian people will have to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas’ terrorist ideology and escalating violence and take a proactive step to accept direct peace negotiations.
“We simply cannot negotiate with an organization that is promoting our destruction,” he said.
“How can we negotiate with someone who wants to kill us? There is no way to move forward with Hamas unless they change their position.”
But Peled said that Israel is ready and willing to talk with Palestinians who are willing to recognize its right to exist and to hammer out a peace accord with them.
“It is not going to be simple, or easy, or fast, but it can be done,” he said.
“There is hope that a peaceful solution can be reached. We have done it with Jordan; we have done it with Egypt; and we can do it with the Palestinians.”
The ambassador concluded by saying that despite the current tensions between Israel and the Palestinians – which last month reached their highest level in four years – he was optimistic that a peaceful resolution to the conflict is now finally in the offing.
“I think the international community is beginning to understand that the resolution to this complex conflict does not lie in outside resolutions and declarations,” he said.
“Fortunately, places like Europe, the United States and Latin America do not have to live with the reality of neighbors who are calling daily for their destruction. It is very easy to offer advice and recommendations from afar. But in the end, it is up to us to survive this situation, to defend ourselves, and, ultimately, to find a path to lasting peace with our neighbors.”
And, that will require a solid commitment of nonintervention from the international community.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org