Arafat wasn’t the problem, Israel and the U.S. are

By Rasmieyh Abdelnabi

Three weeks ago, Yassir Arafat fell into an eternal slumber. As cruel as this may sound, his death does not change much in the occupied territories. For the last three years, he has been under lock and key in his RamAllah home. While Arafat did introduce the world to the Palestinian side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he did not accomplish his ultimate goal of a Palestinian state for his people. This was not because of a lack in trying but because he did not have a willing Israeli partner.

Some say now that Arafat is six feet under, chance for peace in the Middle East is greater.

Newsflash, ladies and gentlemen: Peace in the Middle East will come when the United States and Israel stop acting like an overprotective mama giving her spoiled child everything on his wish list – including, but not limited to, all the toy guns and tanks in the world to help him trump all the other children in the park.

Arafat and the Palestinians are not the roadblocks, but it may be easy to use them as scapegoats and claim they are preventing peace with their violence and unwillingness to compromise. When one takes a look at the history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, one will see how flawed that assessment is.

In 1948, when 78 percent of the British Mandate of Palestine was declared Israel, it created a Palestinian diaspora.

Only 22 percent of historical Palestine was given to the Palestinians. More than half of Palestinians fled from the newly declared Israel into the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring Arab countries.

In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Since then, the Sinai has been returned to the Egyptians but all the other areas are still under occupation.

That same year, settlement building, the root of all evil, began.

Present-day West Bank and Gaza are polluted with settlements, settlers-only roads and hundreds of checkpoints created to protect illegal residents.

All of these events led to the current conflict and unrest in the occupied territories.

In 2000, when President Bill Clinton decided he wanted to go down in history as the American president who solved the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he invited then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat to Camp David for peace talks.

When Arafat rejected Barak’s offer, people called him every name in the book. According to Tanya Reinhart, an Israeli journalist, when one takes a closer look at the “generous offer,” one sees that Palestinians get only about 11 percent of historical Palestine. East Jerusalem would go to the Israelis; the Palestinians would get Abu Dis, a town outside of the Jerusalem and they would be allowed to call it Al-Quds (which is what Muslims call Jerusalem). Settlements in the West Bank, which included the best fertile land and most of the water resources, would be annexed by Israel.

Someone with an IQ of 10 would see that this was by far one of the worst offers known to man. How could the Palestinians take it? They might as well leave.

The peace plan is at a standstill because of the Israeli government, not because of Palestinians’ unwillingness to end the fight. Palestinians have their faults: They are not organized or unified; the leadership is horrible; and they are fighting an internal conflict between extremism and moderation.

The underlining problem in Israel and the occupied territories is Israel’s selfish need to have all of historical Palestine. Until this is seriously addressed, peace in the Middle East is impossible.

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.