INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS SPEECH Panelists Highlight Palestinian-Israeli Conflict By Laila Al-Arian Hoya Staff Writer

olly Burgwinkle/The Hoya Hisham Melham discusses the Palestinian-Isreali conflict with students in Gaston Hall Monday night.

In light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is more relevant than ever, panelists agreed at a lecture in Gaston Hall on Monday.

Heavy rains did not deter Georgetown students from attending the panel, which featured reporters representing the Arab and Israeli media and a formeradvisor of President William Clinton (SFS ’68).

Nathan Guttman, a Washington correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, said many Israelis see the recent terror attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., as an opportunity for Americans to “understand what life under the threat of terror means.” According to a CNN poll taken Sept. 14, Guttman said, 55 percent of Americans support Israel. “That’s up from 41 percent just a month ago,” he said.

As a result of the attacks, Guttman continued, Israelis hope to “gain on the damage that was done to the Palestinian and Arab image in the United States and in the free world.”

Regarding Israel’s refusal to join a worldwide coalition against terrorism, Guttman said, “Israel isn’t an important ally in the war against terrorism.” Instead, the U.S. must continue focusing on gaining the support of Arab and uslim nations.

Turning his attention to the situation in Israel, Guttman assessed the current state of the Israeli government. The national unity government formed one year ago, which consists of a coalition between the Likud and Labor parties, poses many obstacles to peace, he said.

As to the future of the region, Guttman said he doubts the U.S. proposed Mitchell plan will be implemented by either party anytime soon. Israeli Prime Minister Sharon will not stop the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements for fear of political failure. Hisham elham, a Washington correspondent for As-Safir newspaper of Beirut, said he was “not willing to make a political linkage between the horror that visited New York and Washington and the situation in the Middle East.”

Melham stressed that no one should associate critics of Israel with the terrorists. “Most of the people in the Middle East and in the Muslim world who criticize Israel’s policies in the region … were just as appalled as the average American when they saw those planes land in the twin towers in an unprecedented display of hate.”

However, Melham underlined why certain U.S. policies, including America’s support of Israeli’s occupation and despotic Arab regimes and U.S-imposed sanctions on Iraq, are criticized in the Middle East.

Robert Malley, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a national security advisor for the Middle East under Clinton, said that while the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks were not looking to help the Palestinian cause, the two situations must be looked at together.

“Terrorism in the region is fed by resentment of the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This is why the U.S. should find a way to end the conflict now, Malley said.

To begin new negotiations, it is important to ask why the Oslo peace accords failed. As a key negotiator in the 2000 Camp David summit, Malley said there was great distrust between Palestinian and Israeli leaders, who saw the peace accords as a fraud. Israelis say the Oslo accords made it easy for Palestinians to obtain weapons, while Palestinians say their conditions have actually worsened under Oslo.

Israel controlled Palestinian territory and water, demolished Palestinian houses, confiscated land, and expanded settlements, alley said.

“To say that the Palestinians made no concessions during Camp David is an insult to reality,” Malley said.

In fact, Palestinians agreed to implement the right of return of Palestinian refugees in small numbers and give Israel sovereignty of Jewish sites in East Jerusalem.

A road to peace includes demystifying Camp David and reaching a final agreement between the two parties on a “balance of interest,” he concluded.

The lecture, entitled “Peace, Justice and Security:The Israeli-Palestinian Struggle and Its Implications” was sponsored by the School of Foreign Service, Student Affairs, Campus inistry, Diversity Working Group, Lecture Fund, Jewish Students Association, Muslim Students Association, Young Arab Leadership Alliance, Georgetown Israel Alliance and Unity Coalition.

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