Ran Cohen
Photo: Haim Zach

Price of rejection

Those unwilling to pay price of peace with Syria will have to pay price of war

In the tough neighborhood where we reside, known as the Middle East, there are no havens of tranquility. And in the absence of a peace process, what we see is escalation towards war. This is exactly what is happening at this point in time between Israel and Syria, and to a large extent between us and the Palestinians.


The absence of intensive peace negotiations means military, diplomatic, and moral-public preparations for war. Yet whatever the results of such war are, it would exact a heavy price in the form of military and civilian casualties.


Yet it is already clear now that this price would be in vain, because the war that would come, which everyone is preparing for as if we were talking about the weather - a phenomenon we can prepare for but not influence - would not solve a thing, and following it everything would continue as if nothing had happened.


Two main types of scaremongering are playing a role in the diplomatic-political discourse in a bid to dissuade the government from embarking on negotiations with Syria and Lebanon. The first one: Syria is not really interested in peace, but rather, only seeks to gain international legitimacy and end its global isolation. The second one: Assad is deceiving us with his peace talk, while his genuine aim is to embark on a war.


Had these arguments not been uttered by seemingly esteemed figures, we could have rejected both of them on grounds of frivolity. Regarding the first argument, as if Bashar Assad only wishes to end his isolation, we can only ask: this: What's wrong with that? What advantage is there to the fact Syria and its leader are in the same camp with Iran, Hizbullah and al-Qaeda? And when is there greater chance that they would engage in violence against Israel or assist terrorism against it - when they belong to the fundamentalist camp, or when they constitute a legitimate part of the democratic camp?


Taking risks for peace

Who can seriously explain to us why is it good for us that Assad maintain his alliance with Ahmadinejad, who on a daily basis declares his desire to see us exterminated? Will we prevent the Iranian leader from being isolated just because we do not wish to grant legitimacy to Assad?


As to the second argument, as if the Syrian president only seeks to deceive us - we can ask the scaremongers: Why does Assad need to call for negotiations if he only wishes to attack Israel? If he possesses the capabilities and intent, he can undertake an offensive move even without negotiations. And besides, why is the best move to remain silent and do nothing, instead of initiating and striving for action that may, even potentially, prevent war and improve our regional status?


In politics, fears and warnings are not an adequate reason for not daring and not talking. Nowhere in the world is it possible to prevent wars and advance towards peace without any daring and risk – this is particularly true when this risk is much smaller than the risk of war.


The time has come to tell the truth: Israel is not engaging in peace talks in any diplomatic theater - neither the Syrian nor the Palestinian - and not because of these shallow arguments. Israel is not doing it because it lacks leadership with vision that is willing to lead the people who chose it and pay the price of peace.


Yet in light of the fact that, as noted above, there is no vacuum in the Middle East, those unwilling to pay the price of peace will end up paying, big time, the price of war.


The writer is a Knesset member on behalf of Meretz



פרסום ראשון: 06.11.07, 18:14
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