Israel and the Danger of Conflagration in the Region

  • 7 March 2010

The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly proved that it is indifferent towards the resumption of peace process and is not serious in their response to calls for dialog with the Palestinians. Despite the Arab foreign ministers backing for indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within four months – in order to allow the revival of US peace process efforts – Israel looks determined to waste the opportunity and has even responded to the Arab desire for the resumption of negotiations with more militancy. Its forces broke into Al-Aqsa mosque last Friday and assaulted worshipers, in what was a clear affront to Arab and Muslim feelings. This was further evidence of the fact that the country is moving ahead with the implementation of its plans to destroy the peace process and threaten the very foundations of dialog and references to negotiations, which have previously been agreed upon.

Israel has proved time and again that it is not interested in peace and is also not concerned about international community’s calls for adherence to references as a pre-requisite to the resumption of talks between the two sides. It is also noticeable that the recent Israeli actions have coincided with the ongoing tour to the region of George Mitchell, the US special envoy to the Middle East. During the visit – which is aimed at facilitating the start of indirect talks – Mitchell will meet Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday. Despite such meetings, Israel does not intend to take constructive and meaningful steps towards peace.

The sustained Israeli aggression on Al-Aqsa mosque and the Netanyahu government’s decision to include Muslim holy shrines in its so-called  list of national heritage sites will not only obliterate the peace process but will also imperil the entire region, disturbing its security and stability. Targeting Jerusalem’s holy shrines – which occupy prominent position in the hearts of every Arab and Muslim – highlights the religious nature of the conflict and is a matter that will fuel anger against Israel. It may perhaps even lead to another Al-Aqsa intifada (uprising), that happened in the year 2000 and lasted several years following former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon’s decision to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Previous experiences clearly indicate the possibilities that exist as a consequence of the recent Israeli actions in Jerusalem, especially considering angry reactions they have elicited from Palestinians from most parts of the Palestinian Authority.

Another dangerous fact is that forces of extremism and militancy in the region – who do not believe in peaceful coexistence – always exploit such situations to promote their own destructive ideologies. They have the potential to bring the entire region to the brink that can end up creating a dangerous scenario with unpredictable results. If Israel is unconcerned about what its actions at the sacred shrines could lead to and how its control over certain religious sites can risk security and stability, then the US and others who are concerned about Middle East’s security and stability must move persuasively and exert serious and effective pressure on the Israeli government to stop it from moving ahead with these plans. That is the only hope for peace.