letter -- Who Should Take the First Step Toward Peace in the Middle East?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In his Dec. 26 op-ed piece, "Peace for the Mideast," former royal Saudi Arabian cabinet minister Turki al-Faisal referred to two Arab peace plans, one from the 1980s and one only six years old, that would have required Israel to make tangible concessions in return for intangible, revocable concessions. He, like all advocates for his side of the Mideast dispute, chooses to ignore historical facts:

· The West Bank was lost in an Arab war of aggression touched off in 1967 by an Egyptian blockade of Israel abetted by a Jordanian attack on West Jerusalem.

· Egypt got its lost territory back by making and keeping a peace with Israel.

· Jordan made and has kept peace with Israel after having renounced its claim to the West Bank, which it had occupied in 1948 and annexed shortly after.

· The Palestinians made a peace agreement with the Israelis in 1993 but their agents chose violent means, including bus and hotel bombings, to express dissatisfaction with the pace of implementation.

· The unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, a reasonable test of how Palestinians would conduct themselves in relation to their Israeli neighbors, has been followed by more than three years of Palestinian rocketing of civilian targets in Israel.

The U.S. media rarely note these facts. So Arab advocates can find Israeli settlement-building, rather than Palestinian rocketing and suicide bombing, to be "provocative actions." They can piously denounce the Israeli sin of occupation without confessing that they have sought removal of the Jewish state from before its birth, long before there was an inch of occupied territory. They can invite the Israelis to allow Palestinian rockets and mortars 10 miles from Israel's international civilian airport even after the demonstration of daily firing upon civilians from equal or greater distances.

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