History never goes backward, it only moves forward, even as it leaves behind a lot of tragedies. We have to learn from it.
In light of the renewed conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in the past days, which believe will go on endlessly, one cannot help but wonder, what if Israel had accepted the Saudi peace initiative, which was presented at the Arab Summit in March 2002 in Beirut?
To refresh our memories, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, then crown prince, offered a vision of a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East, starting with the Palestinian Cause, and spreading throughout the region that has long been afflicted with unrest.
In short, the initiative sought an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and an equitable solution for the Palestinian refugee problem, to be agreed upon per UN General Assembly Resolution 194, and to be followed with the withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
On the other hand, Arab states consider the Arab-Israeli conflict to be over, with their signing of peace treaties with Israel, with security for all countries in the region, and the establishment of normal relations with Israel within the framework of comprehensive peace.
Israel has been evading the issue for two decades and has not achieved genuine peace, nor has it created the environment for security in the region. So, it is not surprising that the Palestinian territories flare up every few years.
Day after day, Israel makes efforts not to reinforce a coexistence that ultimately leads to peace, but rather seeks to escape any peace-related agreements, considering that these will leave it with its hands tied. Israel even evades minor US restrictions through unilateral actions, making it easier to seize the best lands in the West Bank, and leave Palestinians in small spots torn into fragments away from their land, while detaining tens of thousands of Arab prisoners.
What is the insurmountable obstacle in the road to peace in the Occupied Territories?
Without mincing words, “some Israelis believe they have the right to confiscate and colonize Palestinian land and try to justify the sustained subjugation and persecution of increasingly hopeless and aggravated Palestinians” according to former US President Jimmy Carter in his famous book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid."
Israel's bet has always been on the horse of armed forces, i.e. the military machine and its brutality. For nearly 80 years, Israeli leaders ignored the fact that their arsenal of weapons can cause death and destruction, but they cannot beat the Palestinian land owners' will to live.
Among Israel's losing bets is to bet on foreign support, represented by the United States first, followed by Europe, providing Israel with clear and shortsighted support.
The US domestic landscape today is undergoing fundamental changes, and this is overlooked by Netanyahu's government which is courting the radical Israeli right. There are new young American generations, who are not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and who will become the demographic majority in a few decades, no longer captive to traditional Israeli narratives, or the stereotypes promoted by Israel about the barbaric Arabs.
Perhaps, the measure introduced by young US Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez two weeks ago, alongside a number of her colleagues, to block a new arms deal with Israel reveals the grave nature of the Israeli unilateral policies.
What about the European position on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories?
The protests against the unjustified violence by the Israelis foretell the fate of the Israeli-European relations.
What is happening in Israel today is catastrophic and surpasses the issue of rockets bombing its cities in response to its brutal raids on the Gaza Strip. The situation is approaching an internal civil war. The Netanyahu government has been surprised by the clashes behind the Green Line between Arab and Jewish citizens, something that Israel cannot tolerate.
Ami Ayalon, former head of the Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Service, appeared on Al Arabiya channel and admitted that Israel was deluded into thinking that it could get everything by force. We saw all these illusions fall apart in one week.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said that the road to peace depends on Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Saudi peace initiative. Looking the other way is useless.
This article was originally published and translated from pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat.