|Visiting delegations from dozens of nations attend the 5th International|
Conference for Defending the Palestinian Intifada. Photo: Tehran Times
By: Avi Yesawich
Tehran conference shows that the two-state solution and peace with the State of Israel are unacceptable to a powerful minority, no matter the terms.
A dubious conference that was scantly reported in the Western media recently took place in Iran, one that should serve as an unambiguous warning sign for proponents of the two-state solution and the prospects for establishing a lasting peace in the region. The 5th International Conference for Defending the Palestinian Intifada wrapped up this past Sunday and, unlike Tehran’s previous holocaust conference, it boasted a relatively impressive number of high-ranking politicians and scholars from around the world. The motto for this year’s conference? “Palestine, home of the Palestinians.”
Regrettably, the delegations in attendance were not limited to a small group of isolated fanatics from Israel’s typical antagonists in the region. According to Iran media reports, official state representatives attended from the following countries: Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Indonesia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Lebanon, Qatar, Iraq, the Comoros, Kuwait, Mauritania, Paraguay, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Denmark, and Canada. Furthermore, parliamentary delegations from more than 70 states and independent “scholars” and “academics” from around 100 countries had been invited to the conference.
Putting aside the blatant and deplorable call to armed violence explicitly advocated in the conference’s title, what other type of verbal abominations, radical declarations, and uncompromising positions emanated from the honorable delegations this year? I’ll offer a few choice selections here.
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal made clear that the two-state solution is invalid in the eyes of Hamas. “Palestinians must resort to resistance no matter how costly it is, until Palestine is free and Israel is destroyed.” Islamic Jihad Secretary General Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah stated, “we regard the Zionist regime as an occupier which has no legitimacy and is declining in importance." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad displayed superior belligerence when stating that "effort must be made to free every span of the lands of this country from the Quds occupying regime (Israel), calling for the “Zionist occupiers of Palestine” to return to their lands of origin.
Although a series of disturbing mantras emerged from the conference’s participants, a more threatening, overarching idea becomes apparent in the statements above: a powerful, belligerent conglomeration of forces continues to object to the State of Israel’s presence, no matter the arrangement the country holds with its neighbors. It would be wise to consider what potential effects these forces could have on the region’s long term future, and certainly the implications it has for the State of Israel from a political and security standpoint.
Two-state solution simply not an option
Proponents of the two-state solution should realize the serious barrier this minority poses to finding an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Perhaps these radical elements are a “minority” on the world stage, but that minority is sizable and powerful enough to ensure that a fair and peaceful solution is never achieved. Individuals that decry hatred and bigotry and champion the cause of human rights must don the spectacles of judiciousness and admit that, despite all of the intense, progressive negotiation attempts and reconciliation efforts used to mitigate the Arab-Israeli conflict and implement real solutions to the protracted issues that remain unresolved, a powerful assembly of countries are still unilaterally opposed to the mere existence of the Jewish State, much less honoring any future peace agreement or hosting diplomatic relations.
Iran has declared publicly on several occasions that, even if a comprehensive peace agreement were to be reached between Israel and the Palestinians, the country would never recognize Israel. Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, advanced this position at the conference and offered a solution which is echoed by many Arab politicians: hold a referendum in Palestine that would allow the Palestinians “the right to determine their own destiny.” He dismissed Abbas’ statehood bid since it would recognize Israel the “cancerous tumor” as a legitimate entity. He completely dismissed the two-state solution as an acceptable option, even if the Palestinians themselves support the initiative and reach a compromise with Israel.
Recognition and normalization of relations to the State of Israel was a critical point of attraction ostensibly offered by many Arab states in the 2002 Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace initiative (API), which many in the international community, including the European Union, supported as “a basic parameter” for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Indeed, the API did contain many promising elements that seemed encouraging for supporters of the two-state solution. Unfortunately, the plan received meager or no support from the nations and government entities that pose the biggest military threats to Israel in the region.
Powerful elements and leading politicians in Hamas (Palestine), Hezbollah (Lebanon), Syria and Iran, the four entities considered to be the most hostile towards the existence of the Jewish State, have often and repeatedly expressed the position that, despite whatever compromise is reached between Israelis and Palestinians, their hostile demeanor won’t dissipate. Similar attitudes from terror organizations such as Al Qaeda and dozens of other splinter groups complicates the scenario even further. Each of these entities will continue to use “resistance” until the Zionist entity is eradicated in its totality.
The minority will continue to prevent true peace
As seen by the surging diplomatic support for the Palestinians in their current UN bid, much of the world has grown impatient with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Delegations from nearly 1/3 of the world’s nations attended the conference in Tehran. Not all of these countries espouse radical views such as the ones presented above. However, the desire to end the perpetual state of war has made them eager to find a solution, and the wide-reaching support for UN bid is a prime example of this reality. The problem is that a peaceful solution can't be negotiated with, or imposed upon, the radical organizations and governments that resist any compromise with Israel.
If we look at recent polls, such as the 2011 Democracy Index, we see strong indicators that peace with our Arab brethren seems to be a real possibility. The majority of Palestinians have signaled that they accept a two-state solution, and Israeli Arabs signal that they are proud to be Israeli and content with Israel’s designation as the Jewish State. However encouraging that may be, Israel and the international community would be foolish not to take into consideration the extremely hostile minority that will continue to oppose Israel’s existence based on religious and political ideology. In their eyes, the Zionist entity is an abomination and must be opposed no matter the scenario.
Unfortunately, even if an agreement were reached now in the best of intentions of all parties involved, the likelihood of achieving a true, lasting peace is still very slim, simply because the "minority" that opposes the peace process and recognition of Israel happens to consist of a a group of well-financed, well-armed, politically capable nations whose formidable ideology and influence aren’t susceptible to sanctions, international isolation, or the democratic process. Furthermore, as Egypt and Jordan have seen an increase in anti-Israel sentiment in the wake of the Arab Spring, calls for democratic reforms will most likely provide a platform for Islamic organizations to ascend to power, complicating regional relations with Israel and destabilizing the region even further.
The above realization needs to be emphasized in the strongest possible terms in all political circles and public relations efforts, especially to entities that seek to impose their own will on our region and force our hand in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Perhaps peace can be established with the majority of our Arab neighbors, but radical elements such as those gathered at the Tehran conference will continue to rise up against Israel through violence. Peace-seeking nations must work together to confront individuals looking to undermine the peace process and Israel's existence with whatever means necessary, for the benefit of those who wish to find an equitable, lasting peace for Israel and her neighbors.