Middle East Crisis: Where To Now?
By: General Michel Aoun
(Translated by: Elias Bejjani)

At the start of the Madrid Israeli-Arabic negotiations, the view towards the Palestinian cause changed and the Arabic-Israeli conflict shifted into a new phase. Arabs in Madrid accepted dual negotiations with Israel. For its part, Israel accepted the peace for land principle. Accordingly, Palestinian resistance dropped its militant struggle against the Jewish State.

With this new progress in Arab-Israeli relations, another progression took place, but in the opposite direction for the negotiation track. The Muslim fundamentalists that originally rejected the existence of Israel also rejected the negotiation process with it. Muslim fundamentalism extended and solidified its presence through regimes supporting this rejection strategy, and started new revolutions against those regimes in the area negotiating with Israel.

After the Palestinian resistance gave up their militant struggle against Israel, Muslim Fundamentalism took over their role and built on it. The Arabic-Israeli confrontation accordingly shifted to an Islamic-Israeli one and became more comprehensive and more extensive. With this exchange of roles, resistance against Israel became a part of al-Jihad (holy war). Worth mentioning here is the extreme difficulty in any control over the multiple decision-making process sources of al-Jihad.

Due to Muslim fundamentalist resistance operations in Jerusalem, and due to the fear of many Israelis to engage effectively in the peace process with the Arabs, the Likud opposition party won the last election, and replaced the labor party in office. With the Likud in office, issues became very rigid and inflexible. Negotiations stopped and accords and agreements collapsed, except in the domain of meaningless rhetoric dialogues.

While Israelis are waiting under pressure for peace to prevail, the whole situation remains vulnerable to all kinds of surprises due to the attrition war in South Lebanon, the unstable Israeli security measures in regards to fear of internal bombings, and to external political pressures.

The basic problem behind the unsuccessful progress in peace negotiations lies in the ignorance of all parties involved to the meaning of peace, especially those who are sponsoring the whole peace process. All parties are dealing in a naive and superficial manner with a deep-rooted conflict that goes beyond documented history.

How can one escape this trap? Is the solution to create a diversion by waging a preventative war? Or by fleeing the Islamic wave and abandoning Israel's traditional tactics? Or by just waiting, although waiting seems to be impossible and unacceptable in Israel? There is a high price to be paid for each of the above options, but the question is ... who will pay?