By Khaled Abu Toameh, January 26, 2010.
Many Jews and Arabs living in this part of the world really miss the good old
days before the Middle East peace process began — before Yasser Arafat and
the PLO were brought to the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the signing of the
It is time to cry out loudly that this peace process has been nothing but
a disaster for both peoples.
Has anyone ever noticed that more Jews and Arabs have died since the signing
of the Oslo Accords than during the period between 1967 and 1993?
This peace process, correctly dubbed by some as a ‘war process’, has
failed; it is time to try something else.
Real peace between Palestinians and Jews cannot be achieved, at least not in
the foreseeable future. The gap between the two sides remains as wide as ever
and the two sides do not trust one another at all.
Instead of talking about conflict resolution, we should go for conflict
management , with good-will gestures from both parties.
Israel, for instance, could ease security restrictions, stop settlement expansion
in the West Bank and help improve the living conditions of Palestinians.
The Palestinians, for their part, could stop all forms of violence and incitement
against Israel and focus on building proper government institutions and a strong
infrastructure for the future Palestinian state.
Conflict management means keeping the conflict on a low flame with the hope
that this would have a moderating effect on both Jews and Palestinians.
In the good old days before the peace process began in the Middle East, anyone
living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip could wake up in the morning, get into
his or her car and drive to any place inside Israel.
Suicide and car bombings were unheard of.
Not a single rocket or missile was fired from the West Bank or Gaza Strip into
About 200,000 Palestinians used to work in Israel on a daily basis.
There was no security fence and no wall in the West Bank.
There were no armed militias like Fatah’s Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic
Jihad’s Al-Quds Battalions roaming the streets of Palestinian communities.
Palestinian villagers had free access to their lands and farms in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip.
Thousands of Palestinian merchants from the West Bank and Gaza Strip used to
converge on Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities almost every day to do business.
They used to converge on Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities almost every day to
do business. Thousands of Palestinian families would be seen enjoying their
time at Israeli beaches, public parks and restaurants.
There were no permanent Israeli military checkpoints between the West Bank
and Gaza Strip on the one hand and Israel on the second. Checkpoints were set
up only when security deemed it necessary.
There was one government and one police force in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip and Palestinians knew who they were dealing with and had a clear
Palestinians did not have to worry about a dozen or so security forces/militias
that were created by the PLO after the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Thousands of Israeli Jews would flock Palestinian cities and villages, especially
on weekends, to buy relatively cheap vegetables and fruit and enjoy
locally-made kebab and hummus. Israeli Jews used to repair their cars in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip. They used to visit their dentists in Qalqilya,
Bethlehem and Jenin.
Palestinians did not need a special permit to enter Israel.
Jerusalem was open to all Palestinians and the PLO even had many offices in
Palestinians were able to move to Israel proper and even obtain Israeli
citizenship if they married and Israeli citizen.
We have reached a point where many Jews and Arabs say, somewhat
sarcastically, that they miss the good old days before peace.