- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2002

In Martin Gross' March 21 Commentary column “Reining Sharon in on peace settlement,” he states, “If Israel withdraws to its pre-1967 borders, the Arab world will recognize the existence of the Jewish state. This means Israel will have won the war. Their goal has never been to win more land, but to live in peace and be recognized by its neighbors.”

This statement is somewhat naive and ignores history. Neither peace nor the recognition of Israel can be guaranteed by Israel's withdrawal. After all, if simply assuming pre-1967 borders would ensure peace between Israel and the Arab community, then why was there no peace before 1967? The Arab leadership has given little, if any, indication that they intend to recognize Israel as an independent nation upon Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders. At times, this stubborn attitude against recognizing Israel has been as subtle as a fist to the nose. A March 4 story in the International Herald Tribune quotes Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as saying “I'll be the first to recognize a Jewish state if the United States give them a state in Alaska.” This grotesquely honest statement shows that some Arab leaders simply don't want any Israeli state to exist in the Middle East.

Regarding the Saudi peace plan, in another example, a March 11 Associated Press report says that the Saudis were forced to remove the words “full normalization” from the proposed peace agreement due to bickering among the Arab leaders. Instead, Israel was offered “complete peace” from Arab nations in exchange for the Israeli withdrawal and creation of an independent Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. How the Arab leadership intends to enforce this “complete peace” is not mentioned. There simply exist too many elements that have no intention of ceasing their hostile acts. In a Feb. 28 BBC online report, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah rejected the Saudi proposal to normalize relations with Israel, saying “the Palestinians could win victory by jihad, or holy war, without paying the price of normalization with the enemy.'”

Given these facts, apparently neither Martin Gross nor the Arab leadership have much to offer Israel.


GREG BUETE

Tampa, Fla.


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