Monday, April 22, 2013

Is ME peace possible? Experts' analyses.

One of the best aspects of cruising holidays for me is the chance to meet and hear a variety of expert lecturers on board the cruise liners. Depending on the standard of the particular company, the destinations and passengers the line caters for and the number of days it spends at sea, lectures one can listen to and courses one can take on board are many and varied.

We were fortunate to be taking a cruise along the Brazilian coast, along the Amazon River and up the Atlantic ocean and Caribbean sea over 3 weeks on a luxury liner, Crystal Serenity in March 2013.
The company provided a number of top 'celebrity lecturers'
on a variety of current affairs topics and having plenty of lazy days at sea, it allowed us to listen to some very stimulating lectures on international affairs, including a panel discussion on the Peace Process and separate lecture by General (ret.) Anthony Zinni of the USA on mediating in the ME.

The panellists included also Dr. Jay Wolff, US historian, Neil Leiffer, US international economist, as well as General Zinni, former Chief of the American forces and speacial envoy to the ME. Moderator was Ken Rees, UK former journalist and author. The general topic was: is peace possible between Israel and the Arab Palestinians?
Jay Wolff didn't think it possible as long as the Arabs will not accept Israel's right to exist. Neil Leiffer was more optimistic, as he believed that economics will prevail in the end and in particular, hoping that new generations will forego violence in favour of coexistence.

 General Zinni was less optimistic due to what he has experienced,- a wide cultural divide.
In his subsequent lecture he was able to give an insight into his experience as a negotiator and discussed the art and science of mediation and conflict resolution in foreign lands such as the ME.

General Zinni:
Negotiations are not part of diplomacy. One needs to create two layers in mediation and conflict resolutions between the parties: Must bring in some seniors of stature who are above the mediators and with whom mediators can confer.He himself needed to have an understanding of cross-cultural, historical background and for that purpose relied on the author, Aaron Miller and his book
 " A Much too Promised Land".
Re Jerusalem: one has to consider also 16 Christian religious groups,- as well as the Jews and Moslems.
Re final status issues:1) Jerusalem; 2) Right of return of the Palestinians,- e.g. by compensation if not in person; 3) Final borders; 4) Settlements; 5) water control; 6) Recognition of Israel; 7) Security;
8) Economic cooperation; 9) Status of the Golan Heights which controls the Sea of Galillee below and the Shaba Farms area.

During the time of his period of trying to negotiate between the parties, he could not believe how friendly the Israelis and Palestians were when they met, particularly those involved in security on the ground, slapping each other on the back, joking and exchanging friendly questions about their families. However, the moment they sat down to discuss issues, they started to argue and shouted at each other. The politicians in particular were the worst!

In general:
 *He considered the MOSSAD to have the most balanced and accurate information.
 *One must not lose sight of the people who are most affected,- not the righteous and the debaters.
* One needs to mediate for the future, not for the past. Cannot resolve the past.
* The media is ruthless, but have to deal with them and this is not always in the best interests of progress in mediation.
Lobbyists are not a problem in his experience,- they just want to be kept informed!

General Zinni also gave a lecture on LEADERSHIP TODAY.(see later on


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