Resolution 1397 and the Fateful Triangle:

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America, Israel, and Palestine

By Hassan El-Najjar 



        The UN Security Council has been meeting for several days this week. Early on March 13, the US presented a resolution proposal that was approved by 14 members of the Council. The 15th member, Syria, abstained from voting. What was Resolution 1397 all about? What has it accomplished? And what is its fate?

        The UNSC was meeting to discuss the Israeli brutal military campaign that aimed at the reoccupation of the Palestinian territories. To block any attempts from the European Union or Arab states to propose a resolution that calls on Israel to withdraw its forces, the U.S. propsed Resolution 1397. The resolution calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state but it neither condemns the Israeli aggression nor calls on Israel to withdraw. That's why Syria (representative of the Arab states) abstained from voting, as a protest.

        The lack of a call on Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories is a tantamount of protection for the Israeli occupation and encouragement for Israeli aggression. Moreover, it makes negotiations a form of a Palestinian surrender to Sharon's will. In response, while the Palestinian Authority welcomed the resolution as a recognition of the Palestinian right for a state, it declared that it will not enter any negotiations with the Israeli government before the Israeli withdrawal. In essence, the resolution strengthened the aggressive position of the Israeli government.

        With reference to the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is more likely that Resolution 1397 will take its position in the dusty stack of other resolutions that were passed in the United Nations. The 1947 Resolution 181, called for the partition of Palestine into two states. One materialized (Israel) and the other (Arab Palestine) has been prevented, so far. Resolution 194, which was passed in 1949, called on Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their lands, villages, and towns, and to compensate them for the loss of their property. Resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the Arab territories it occupied in 1967, and resolution 338 repeated the same call after the 1973 war. Israel never observed anyone of them because of the material support and  protection it receives from the United States.

        But why does the United States stops short of pressuring Israel to withdraw from the Arab territories? The short answer lies in the influence of pro-Israel officials in the administration, Congress, and the media. The lack of checks and balances in American foreign policy made the United States, the world superpower, a follower of Israel (a nation of five million people). Only the appointment of Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans to major positions of policy-making in the administration can countrerbalance the influence of pro-Israelis. Members of Congress can receive balanced accounts if they hire Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans in their staff. Otherwise, most of them will continue receiving only pro-Israel accounts. The major media, TV stations, magazines, newspapers, and publishing houses, are heavily influenced by the Israeli view of the world. They need to hire Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans for more objective coverage of the conflict in the Middle East and the Islamic world. When this happens, America may not see itself in a collision course with Arabs and Muslims, Israel may stop its aggression, and Palestine may become the land of peace again. But the world cannot wait until this happens. The Palestinians and the Israelis cannot wait until these corrections take place in the American system. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of State Powell all said that they want to see peace between Israelis and Palestinians. To achieve that, the  Bush administration has no other alternative but to pressure Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories, so that the final status issues can be negotiated. Short of that, the cycle of violence will continue.

Dr. Hassan A. El-Najjar is the Editor of and author of  "The Gulf War: Overreaction & Excessiveness." (2001).