A stable, secure Palestine holds the key to peace

The United States and the world should give attention to Palestine, not Afghanistan.

This troubled and decimated region in the Middle East is the key to our conflicts with terrorism. The importance of finding Osama bin Laden pales in comparison to building a stable Palestinian region.

The Israeli and Palestinian governments recently brokered a deal to remove Israeli troops from two important towns in the region: Bethlehem and Beit Jala.

The Israelis inserted one clause into the agreement: Violence in the two cities must end. But when fighting broke out again a week ago the Israeli government decided to leave its troops and tanks in these cities as “”peacekeepers.””

What seemed like a promising beginning to a truce resulted in more gunfire and violence.

The Palestinian and Israeli sides resorted to finger-pointing after the incident.

An Israeli security source informed Reuters, “”If Palestinians keep the calm and their commitments, Israel will re-examine its decision.””

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat responded by stating, “”Once again, we have had an agreement, and the Israeli side is violating it.””

Both sides have been playing this blame game for years.

A never-ending circle of violence is the result. Retaliations occur, such as the Oct. 17 assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi, which prompted Israel to send forces into Palestinian territories and attack positions there.

This cycle should be familiar to any western viewer of the enduring conflict.

The sides have signed peace settlements over and over, such as the famous Wye River agreement of October 1998.

It was intended to create a stable and calm Palestine, yet after months of delays in installing the agreement, Israeli officials withdrew from the plan. Violence resulted and has continued nearly unabated to this day.

The deal, brokered by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, highlights the problem with the way the U.S. government has handled its relations in the area.

The reason for this plan’s failure is lack of enforcement.

The United States is not willing to send troops into the region as peacekeepers or to enforce any agreement. This is an understandable but unfortunate sentiment when one considers that peace in Palestine is vital to U.S. national security.

The recent terrorist attacks on the United States have been a direct result of U.S. support for Israel and its violence toward Muslims.

Some of the Israeli-enacted bloodshed has been justified, some has not. Either way, Arabs in the area see such acts of aggression toward Palestinians as sanctioned and supported by the United States.

Bin Laden said, “”Those who live in America will never taste security and safety unless we feel security and safety in our land and in Palestine.””

The terrorist activity in America and elsewhere is a direct result of instability in the region. Palestine must be made secure.

If the United States is not willing to step up to the plate to enforce the security in the region, who will?

The United Nations can. An internationally backed accord is necessary for the region to realize hopes for peace.

As cited repeatedly by the U.S. government, the reason our war against the Taliban will prove successful lies in the support the United States has received from the world. The same is true for Palestine.

The United States needs to begin building a U.N.-sanctioned peace plan, including U.N. military enforcement for such a plan.

The time is over for idle talk of “”needing to restore talks”” or “”getting both sides back to the bargaining table.””

Both sides need to be brought before the United Nations to settle the problem.

Only a world-backed plan will succeed where others have failed.

Average Americans can help by writing to their congressmen and demonstrating support for the idea.

Put your voice to work and convince the government of the necessity for action in Palestine. Americans must realize the importance of peace in the Middle East and how it directly affects national security.

Then we can make such a realization public — loudly.

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