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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Resolution 'Essential' in Anti-Terrorism Fight - 2001-11-11


The U.S. effort to forge a global anti-terrorism campaign counts on Arab and Muslim support. Arab states say resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essential to fighting one of the root causes of terrorism. For now, violence dominates Israeli-Palestinian relations with few signs the peace process will be revived any time soon. There are differing views on what is needed to resolve the conflict.

President Bush used his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday to underline his administration's commitment to a just and lasting Middle East peace.

"We are working toward the day when two states - Israel and Palestine - live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders as called for by the Security Council resolutions," the president said. " We will do all in our power to bring both parties back into negotiations. But peace will only come when all have sworn off forever incitement, violence and terror."

Recent efforts to revive stalled peace talks have collapsed. Mutual distrust and hostility have intensified.

Both sides blame each other for the latest cycle of violence that has lasted more than a year and claimed more than 1,000 lives. And, they blame each other for failed efforts to get their peace talks back on track.

Israeli political analyst Shlomo Avineri says the fundamental problem is the conflicting vision that Israelis and Palestinians have of their future.

"We are dealing here with a clash of two national movements. And clashes of national movements deal not only with emotions but also with the existential idea of what people have of themselves - their own identity," he says. "And when those two come to clash in the same territory, it's a zero sum game. And it's the same in Kashmir, in Kosovo, in Palestine and Israel."

Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath says the two sides alone cannot sort it out. He complains the United States - the key sponsor of the peace process - is not more directly involved.

"How do we simultaneously end with reciprocity the confrontation on the ground in order to go back to the political table where these matters will have to be strategically sorted out?" asks Mr. Shaath. "It seems to me there is no way without a third party at this stage."

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State David Satterfield says there is just so much the United States can do.

"What's the role of the United States? What's the role of the international community in all this? Well, it must be to nurture, to facilitate, to sustain and encourage this process," he says. "But we cannot substitute for courage, determination, and vision by the parties themselves."

Palestinians say the United States needs to press Israel harder to implement peace accords already reached on its withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, on dismantling Jewish settlements there, and the Palestinian right of self-determination.

Fearful for its own security, Israel insists that Palestinians end their violence against Israel before peace talks can resume.

Jordan's King Abdullah says the September 11 terrorist attacks make it more urgent to push the peace process forward quickly.

And, he signals that behind-the-scenes efforts are underway to do just that. He told a London newspaper last week he is seeking an Arab statement guaranteeing Israel's security in return for setting up a Palestinian state. He said the long-term strategy would be an integral part of a new U.S. peace initiative.

Palestinians reject Osama bin Laden's efforts to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to his call for a Muslim holy war against the West. But, Arab leaders like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak say the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism cannot be separated from a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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