The number one grievance for the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world is the lack of a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. America continues to misjudge the religious and political significance of this conflict, says Ahmad Al-Akhras.
On the 60th anniversary of the UN partition plan, President Bush invited the conflicting parties of the Middle East to Annapolis, Maryland. It seems that President Bush wanted to have a legacy for being a broker of a long-awaited peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis. It looks like nothing is coming out of this meeting. However, it may turn out as a nice photo op for everybody involved.
Ehud Olmert, Israeli prime minister, made it very clear that no discussion will take place on the four major areas: Jerusalem, Refugees, borders and settlements. These areas of major conflict can wait until later. This is contrary to the premise of the 1993 Oslo Accord which necessitated that these concerns be discussed and resolved within 5 years, 1998 that is. Seventeen years later and no movement on these areas yet.
Israel has managed to manipulate the discussion. Israel came to Annapolis bypassing all previous commitments to its Palestinian neighbors. To me, I believe four major conditions must take place immediately.
First, freeze the establishment and the expansion of all the colonies, what some like to wrongly and erroneously call settlements. These colonies are creating facts on the ground. Since the 1993 Oslo Accord, population of these colonies has doubled. Currently, there are 149 colonies in the West Bank with a total population of 450,000.
Second, Israel must have an immediate stop to the Apartheid Wall. It is unconscionable that the world went into an uproar against the 90-mile, 12-ft Berlin Wall and can see no fault in the 400-mile, 24-ft Apartheid Israeli Wall that is creating a ghetto and Bantustans and making the West Bank a literal prison. Over 800,000 Palestinians live behind this Apartheid Wall. (MORE)
Dr. Ahmad Al-Akhras is the Vice Chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He also serves on the Columbus Community Relations Commission and the Ohio Affiliate of the ACLU. His parents were forced out of Palestine at a very young age. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org