Monday, July 14, 2008

Lebanon Needs A Peace Treaty With Israel

Lebanon Needs A Peace Treaty With Israel
By: Elias Bejjani


On Wednesday July 9th of this year, national news agencies reported that the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora had refused without any declared justifications, an Italian peace initiative presented to him by Italy's Ambassador to Lebanon, Mr. Gabriel Kekya. News reports stated that the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who was on an official visit to Israel, had asked his country's ambassador in Beirut to inform Mr. Saniora that he is willing to seriously mediate peace talks between Lebanon and Israel.

Mr. Saniora, bizarrely and for unexplained reasons, had also rejected on the tenth of last June, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's call for bilateral peace negotiations with Lebanon. Saniora rationalized his refusal by alleging that the outstanding issues between Lebanon and Israel are all governed by UN Resolutions including that of the Sheba Farms and in such, there is nothing to talk about. Olmert's call came a month after unveiling the ongoing indirect negotiations between Syria and Israel under Turkish auspices.

Lebanon's emotional and ignorant stance of stubbornly refusing peace talks with Israel is no longer acceptable, nor logical or justifiable.

One wonders why or what prevents Lebanon from doing what every other major Arabic country has done in initiating contact for purposes of peace with Israel. What could be especially said of Baathist Syria'?

Lebanon needs to remove its hesitation and relieve itself from the yoke of the 'Jamal Abdel Nasser Complex' and bury once and for all the stigmatizing Arab anti-Israeli phobia. Like it or not, Israel is a reality like the rest of the Middle East countries, and will remain so for many years to come.

While Lebanon's leadership is obviously afraid from Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and other Fundamentalist Arab regimes and Islamic armed militias, and accordingly keeps on avoiding any kind of peace talks with the Israelis, we find that those same countries and organizations are actively talking with the Israelis on many levels and on numerous issues!

The foremost runner in this context is Syria who adopts two completely contradicting stances. Overtly, and of course rhetorically, Syria tells its people and the Arabs that Israel is the enemy and should be dealt with accordingly, while covertly it is begging the Israelis for a peace treaty. During the past thirty years and without any sort of fear or embarrassment, Syria has never retreated from negotiating with the Jewish state either directly or through mediators. The latest series of talks are still ongoing via Turkey.

Many Syrian officials are even bragging about the extensive progress they have made in their negotiations with the Israelis and are calling on the US, the 'Great Satan' (as they and their allies the Iranians like to call it), and France to sponsor the whole process and assume full partnership in it.

Yesterday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who side by side with the Israelis attended the 43-nation Union for the Mediterranean summit in Paris, told Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera that Damascus would establish "normal" relations with the Jewish state, including the opening of embassies.

It is worth mentioning that last year in April, Syrian-American negotiator Ibrahim Suleiman, who is a very close friend to the Syrian ruling Al Assad Family visited Israel and gave a speech publicly in its Knesset. He called on the Israelis to engage with the Baathist Syrians into a negotiating process in a bid to sign a peace treaty between the two countries. Reports that came from Israel during his visit stated that he offered the Israelis Syrian promises and guarantees that once the peace treaty is reached Syria will disarm and dismantle all the terrorist and fundamentalist Islamic organizations including Hezbollah and Hamas. In return, Syria was asking for Israeli, and American guarantees that the Assad ruling Family and its Baath Party will be helped and supported to remain in powe

We can not fail to point out that the assassination of the notorious Hezbollah terrorist, Imad Mughniyeh on February 13th of 2008 in the centre of the Syrian capital had been considered by many respected international observers as a Syrian blood message to both USA and Israel that said: Secure our control and ruling powers over Syria and in return we shall eliminate all the organizations and elements that bothers you.

The Lebanese people have the right to know why their government is refusing to talk peace with the Israelis while keeping a blind eye on Hezbollah's on going negotiations with the Jewish State under the German and UN auspices. Hezbollah's Secretary General admitted in one his fiery speeches last month that his group is negotiating with the Israelis through the UN who assigned a German mediator for this task.

It is also worth mentioning that a deal for exchanging body remains and prisoners between Hezbollah and Israel was sealed a few days ago and will be implemented later this week. The Lebanese government did not have any role in this deal and all its negotiating authorities were bluntly confiscated by Hezbollah.

The Lebanese people have the right to know why their government is refusing to talk with the Israelis, while the Palestinians themselves became full partners with the Israelis after the "Oslo Accord" and had accepted the right of Israeli's existence and renounced their armed struggle against it.

The Lebanese people have the right to know whether the rulers of Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, the Arab Gulf states and other members of the Arab League are all traitors because they have either forged peace accords with Israel or have established diplomatic, trade and intelligence relations with its government.

The Lebanese people have the right to know why Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinians, all the Arab and Muslim countries, the Iranians and every other country and individual on this earth are allowed to talk with the Israelis while the legitimate Lebanese authorities are singled out and forbidden from doing so.

The painful and shocking reality is that Lebanon is to remain the final battle ground and an attractive arena for all Arab armed extremists, terrorists and fundamentalist groups as is the situation now with Hezbollah, the armed Iranian militia that has erected a state inside the Lebanese state and is on its way to topple the whole Lebanese regime and erect an Iranian one in its place. It has been devouring Lebanese institutions day after day while the whole world is watching and doing nothing.

No, this official Lebanese position is not more acceptable under any pretext, and there must be an immediate end put to it!

Lebanon's officials and its sovereign religious and political leaders have a legal and national obligation towards their fellow Lebanese citizens. They ought to put on the table all the reasons and elements that force them to keep Lebanon alienated from the Middle East process.

In case they are all helpless and threatened by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah they have to publicly admit these intimidating obstacles and officially call on the UN, the Arab League and free world countries to take over and face militarily the axis of evil powers as was the situation in Afghanistan, East Timor, Iraq and other African countries.

We call on the Lebanese officials and religious and political leadership in general especially President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Saniora in particular, to stop squawking like parrots their "Dhimmitude" rhetorical and humiliating slogan that says: Lebanon will be the last Arab country to negotiate with Israel and sign a peace treaty with it, because in fact Lebanon is the only country in the entire Middle East that is still holding itself hostage in this bizarre and unrealistic anti-Israel futile position.

Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website

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