has been written lately about several attempts to craft an alternative
peace plan in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The best
known of these recent plans – the "Geneva Initiative"
– was conceived and written by representatives of both sides of
the conflict, but without the involvement of governments or politicians.
As such, it is a fresh approach that should provide a lesson to those
who continue to believe that peace is something that can only be crafted
by government officials, or bribed and bullied by the "international
know this: after decades of conflict and tens of billions of US taxpayer
dollars spent, US government involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian
peace process has led nowhere. The latest US government-initiated plan
for peace, the "road map," appears to be a map to nowhere.
This does not surprise me much. With a seemingly endless amount of money
to bribe the leaders of the two opposing sides to remain engaged in
the process, is it any wonder why the two parties never arrive at peace?
on both sides are becoming more and more frustrated with the endless
impasse and endless government and bureaucrat-written peace agreements
that go nowhere.
why plans like this should be of such interest. Initially conceived
by an obscure Swiss professor, the project was joined by former Israeli
Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, former Palestinian Authority Information
Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, and by other prominent individuals like
former president Jimmy Carter. The negotiations led to the creation
of a 50-page detailed accord.
I do not
know whether the product is perfect. I have not studied the minute details
of the proposal. But what I do know is that politicians, governments,
and special interests promote war at the expense of those who have to
fight them. Wars end when the victims finally demand peace. And that
is what we are beginning to see. According to one recent survey, a majority
among both the Israeli and Palestinian population support this new initiative.
That is encouraging.
credit, President Bush has demonstrated an open mind toward this alternative
approach. He declared the Geneva Initiative "productive,"
and added that the United States "appreciates people discussing
peace." Secretary of State Colin Powell echoed the president when
he resisted hard-line pressure to ignore the proposed accord, stating,
"I have an obligation to listen to individuals who have interesting
ideas." This is also encouraging.
though, this new approach is not as welcomed by those – governments,
politicians, and special interests – who have a stake in dragging
out the process indefinitely. Palestinian Authority President Yasser
Arafat has been lukewarm at best. Extremist Arab organizations that
have a special interest in continuing the violence have also rejected
the Geneva Initiative. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has rejected
the Initiative out of hand. Said Mr. Sharon: "Geneva is an attempt
to do something only a government can do."
But the point is that governments have little incentive to finally end
conflicts such as these. The United States is in places like Kosovo
and Bosnia indefinitely in the name of "peace-keeping" and
"peace processes." The same will be true of our involvement
in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is not until foreign involvement ceases
– that means our continued meddling in the Middle East – and
the people involved demand peace that real working solutions begin to
emerge. The Geneva Initiative is therefore a positive step toward peace
in the Middle East. Let us step back and get out of the way!