The Middle East: Arab Opinion
After the Arab summit in Cairo last weekend, I thought I would
pass on some excerpts from the leaders final statement. Many of
the Arab states are true moderates; Egypt, Jordan and Saudi
Arabia, to name a few. But some of the language is clearly
intentioned for the hard-line elements of their respective
countries, particularly the call for a war crimes tribunal. Next
week I will put together some opinions from the Israeli side.
[Translation by The New York Times]
The summit salutes the uprising of the Palestinian people in the
occupied Palestinian land...
Arab leaders hold Israel responsible for returning the region back
to an atmosphere of tension and violence as a result of the Israeli
practices of aggression and its siege of the Palestinian people in
violation of its commitments stipulated in Geneva convention,
1949, as an occupying force...
The Arab leaders confirm that the Aksa intifada erupted as a
result of continuing occupation and the Israeli violation of Haram
al Sharif, and the rest of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in the
Palestinian land...They also affirm the Palestinian people''s right
to just compensation from Israel for moral, human and material
Arab leaders demand forming a neutral international committee in
the framework of the United Nations that will report to the
Security Council, and the Human Rights Committee, on the
reasons and the responsibility for the dangerous deterioration in
the occupied Palestinian Land, and the massacres committed by
the Israeli occupying forces...
They also ask that the Security Council and General Assembly
take charge of providing protection for the Palestinian people
under Israeli occupation, through discussing forming a force or
any international presence for this purpose...
Arab Leaders affirm that Arab nations shall pursue, in accordance
with international law, those responsible for these brutal practices
and demand that the Security Council form an international
tribunal dedicated to trying Israeli criminals of war who
committed massacres against the Palestinians and the Arabs in the
occupied land like the former tribunal formed for criminals of war
in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia...
Arab leaders express their deep resentment and depreciation of
the Israeli escalation in aggression and its provocation in a time
when the region was getting ready for comprehensive and just
peace, especially after the Arabs decided since the Madrid
conference that a comprehensive and just peace is their option
and opens the way for a final settlement...
Arab leaders affirm that a comprehensive and just peace shall not
be achieved without the return of Jerusalem to Palestinian
sovereignty and without granting the Palestinians legitimate rights
including the founding of an independent state with Jerusalem as
its capital...And without restoring all Arab land occupied,
including a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza
and from Golan to the borders of June 4, 1967, and the
completion of the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon to
the international borders including Shabaa plantation. And
without the release of Arab prisoners held in the Israeli prisons...
Arab leaders stress that halting of the peace process in its bilateral
track will lead to halting of the multilateral track. They also
affirm that dealing with the issues of regional cooperation cannot
be done without achievement of real peace in the region...
Arab leaders...remind...the world not to move embassies to
Jerusalem and...affirm cutting all relations with countries
that...recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Arab leaders affirm that achieving durable peace and security in
the region requires Israeli accession to the nuclear non-
proliferation treaty. And to submit all Israeli nuclear installations
to international inspection system. They stress the importance of
making the Middle East free of nuclear weapons and weapons of
And to further gauge opinion in the Arab world, I have selected
some passages from a recent editorial written in the Egyptian
newspaper Al-Ahram by commentator Gamil Mattar.
"...the only consistent element of U.S. policy, especially with
regard to the Middle East issue, is that it has always said one
thing and done completely the opposite. It has put itself forward
as a partner and an ''honest broker'' in the peace process. A
partner it has been, no more or less than Israel, the Palestinian
Authority (PA) and Syria. But by no means has it been an
''honest broker.'' At no point, since Camp David at least, has it
undertaken any action to demonstrate that it was a dependable,
sincere, fair and impartial mediator. Camp David itself was a
thinly disguised trap set up by the U.S. go-between to force the
Palestinian negotiators into choosing between two impossible
alternatives: either concede to the Israeli solution for Jerusalem or
stand charged as having forfeited a last-ditch opportunity for
peace. Had the U.S. truly been a fair and honest broker, it would
not have forwarded an Israeli proposal as though it were its own,
it would not have made Jerusalem the issue to make or break
Camp David and it would not have laid so many snares to
embarrass the Palestinian authorities in the Arab world and
internationally. By no stretch of the imagination are these acts of
an impartial intermediary; they are the acts of an adversary.
"...The Arabs are angry. The Arab people know that the U.S. is
an adversary, not a mediator. If Arab governments cannot admit
to the fact that they are suffering under U.S. pressure, whether as
''a close friend'' or as an ''honest broker,'' they have only
themselves to blame. It is not reasonable that the U.S. should
compound the problems of governments already encumbered by
untold concerns. Nor is it acceptable for the U.S. to persist in
inciting the anger of the peoples of the region in the hope that the
Arab governments will quell that anger at every turn.
"The Arab people in recent weeks have confirmed that a major
change has taken place. At the heart of this change is the fact that
they will no longer allow their governments or themselves to be
humiliated, not by Israel and not by U.S. brokerage....Young
Egyptians have remained poised for action in recent days. This is
the ''Camp David'' generation, the generation nurtured on the
culture of peace, on peaceful solutions to conflict and on peaceful
coexistence and normalization with Israel. And this generation is
Editor Note: I can not disagree with Mattar on the issue of Camp
David and turning Jerusalem into a make or break issue. The
parties should have encouraged each side to hold off on the final
status of the holy city until everything else was cleared from the
table, allowing more time for trust to develop between the two.