At Annapolis this week President Bush spoke with Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert of Israel. But, alas! he had little or nothing to say about the sticky issues that for nearly 50 years have kept the two sides from reaching a two state solution, that which everyone agrees is the only solution.
Indeed, Olmert, now back in Israel, and as a follow-up to Annapolis, has been telling his countrymen that Israel's very survival as a viable state depends on there also being a viable Palestinian state. I wonder if he wonders why Bush didn't have more to say about all this. I do.
Everyone knows what a peace agreement depends upon. For one, the Palestinian refugees must be permitted to return, although most likely to Palestine, and not to Israel proper. Then Jerusalem must become the capital of both peoples. Finally, Israel must surrender Israeli land to the Palestinians as compensation for any Israeli settlements in the West Bank that are allowed to survive.
During the conference President Bush was eerily silent in regard to all three, although he did side with the Israelis regarding the refugees not being allowed to return to their homes in Israel. Why didn't he do more? Shouldn't he have pushed Olmert to in turn push his countrymen to do what had to be done? Why didn't he?
In fact, Bush's almost complete silence at the Conference in regard to the concessions the Israelis would have to make, if they would ever have peace, makes one wonder if the Israeli Washington lobby isn't indeed all powerful.
In fact, the Annapolis Conference was hardly necessary. For we heard on day one about the only decision that would be made by the attendees. Olmert and Abbas would agree to resume thepeace talks that had been stalled for the past seven years. And they would pledge that during these talks they would reach an
agreement on the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008. They could have announced all that without the trip Annapolis.
Do you believe that what has been pledged will happen? I don't. And in any case, why wait a year? Everyone knows what has to be done, and it could be done today.
What does keep the two state settlement from happening? The answer is two-fold, history and religion, not enough of the one, and too much of the other. A history going back only a few thousand years, and two all powerful, totalitarian religions, curtailing the freedom of action of these peoples in the present.
Both are huge obstacles in the paths of these peoples otherwise highly suited to becoming friends, neighbors, and trading partners, that which they probably were at an earlier time in their pasts.
If in fact they were to go back a bit further into their pasts and obtain additional knowledge of their very similar histories, they would see that they were really one people, and that the so-called differences between them were all historical fabrications, not fundamental to who and what they were and are.
I take as an illustration of what I mean the following passage from an article in the New York Times by Nicholas Wade,Scientists Rough Out Humanity's 50,000-Year-Old Story.
"Analysis of the Y chromosome has already yielded interesting results. Dr. Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem said she had found considerable similarity between Jews and Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, as if the Y chromosomes of both groups had been drawn from a common population that began to expand 7,800 years ago."
And this, of course, is not a single isolated example. For we are constantly learning how much we all, not just the Palestinians and Israelis, are one people. Yet there are those among us who don't want to hear this and prefer to go on killing one another, in the name of what? Their recent past? And at the very time when their deep past is telling them to make peace.