Mideast agreement reveals true commitment, desire for peace
At the start of this decade the world saw the beginning of peace between the United States and Eastern bloc countries. As the end of the decade draws near, promises of peace in the Middle East are stronger than ever.
Peace is always a welcome sight, and the new peace agreement is a tribute to the many world leaders who encouraged negotiations. Only time will tell whether the peace will last, but the negotiations have proven the Israeli dedication to ending animosity between the two groups.
Future talks are still necessary to resolve issues such as the status of the city of Jerusalem and the creation of a Palestinian state, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat signed the general agreement on Friday.
The peace agreement, although perhaps tenuous, is an impressive accomplishment. Palestine has been fundamentally at odds with the nation of Israel. The Palestine Covenant calls for the destruction of the Jewish nation.
Everyone is likely to benefit from the agreement. The end of sanctioned violence will hopefully save lives, and the cooperation between the two groups is expected to bring about economic progress to both.
The details of the agreement seem one-sided, and they show how much is invested in this potential peace.
According to the plan, Israel relinquishes the Gaza Strip and 13 percent of the West Bank. Israel will release 400 Palestinian prisoners from its jails -- down from the requested 700. In exchange, the Jewish nation receives a pack of promises. The Palestinians vowed to work toward ending terrorism in Israel and agreed to stop seeking Israel's ultimate dissolution.
Besides Arafat and Netanyahu, President Clinton and King Hussein of Jordan worked to bring about this peace accord.
This is a good example of positive foreign policy for both leaders. Hussein and Clinton are prominent world leaders, and their mere involvement encourages an agreement between the warring groups.
It is encouraging to see leaders mature enough to use their influence in such a positive manner. In fact, without the participation of the American president, a settlement would likely never have come about.
In hopes of placating supporters back home, Netanyahu needed some concession stronger than promises. He turned to the United States. An Israeli spy, James Pollard, has been in prison in America since 1985, and he is serving a life sentence. Netanyahu refused to sign the peace agreement unless Pollard was released.
Clinton agreed to look into the matter and the Israeli prime minister finally signed. The American involvement in the talks possibly prevented both sides from walking out.
The months ahead will be very revealing. The negotiated agreement includes a strict timeline for both sides so progress can be easily measured and trust can be slowly built.
After such a lengthy dispute, emotions are certainly high. There is no basis for trust between these two peoples, and animosities could likely flare up again with even small provocations.
The final outcome could go either way. Since Palestine has only agreed to change its rhetoric, Israelis may find themselves victims of the same violence as before. However, if all goes well, Palestinian terrorism could end, and possible funding from Congress will aid both groups.
Just as the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement of 1994 was not the final settlement between the two groups, there is still work to do now. There is the possibility follow-up talks will fall apart, or perhaps the two sides will finally work out an amiable coexistence. Either way, the world has now seen a sincere dedication to peace from several corners of the globe.
Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.