Posted by: sean | April 12, 2007

"Israel does not want peace"

Ha’aretz has an opinion piece by Gideon Levy in which he argues that “Israel does not want peace.”

The moment of truth has arrived, and it has to be said: Israel does not want peace. The arsenal of excuses has run out, and the chorus of Israeli rejection already rings hollow. Until recently, it was still possible to accept the Israeli refrain that “there is no partner” for peace and that “the time isn’t right” to deal with our enemies. Today, the new reality before our eyes leaves no room for doubt and the tired refrain that “Israel supports peace” has been left shattered.

It’s hard to determine when the breaking point occurred. Was it the absolute dismissal of the Saudi initiative? The refusal to acknowledge the Syrian initiative? Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s annual Passover interviews? The revulsion at the statements made by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, in Damascus, alleging that Israel was ready to renew peace talks with Syria?

Who would have believed it? A high-ranking U.S. official says Israel wants peace talks to resume and instantly her president “severely” denies the veracity of her words. Is Israel even hearing these voices? Are we digesting the significance of these voices for peace? Seven million apathetic Israeli citizens prove that we are not.

This is a familiar refrain in the Arab world. When asked whether he thinks Israel will sign a peace treaty with Syria or accept Riyadh’s plan, the man on the street here usually says, “Of course not, Israel doesn’t want peace.”

It’s been easy enough for the “West” to dismiss this as Arab conspiracy theory, while accepting the Israeli line that the Jewish state would love nothing more than peace with its neighbors, if only there were a real “partner for peace.” With the recent Israeli rebuffing of Syrian and Saudi-led Arab League peace initiatives, it’s becoming harder and harder to disagree with the idea that finally, when all’s said and done, Israel isn’t really interested in peaceful relations with its neighbors in the region.


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