As elections loom, Egypt must unify
The Army and government in Egypt must chart a clear road map for the months ahead. And speaking of a road map, a renewed effort must be made to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on pre-1967 borders.
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In the context of this state of affairs, it would be a mistake to extrapolate the current strain between Egypt and Israel to an ending of the peace treaty between the two countries. During the height of the revolution, there were no banners against Israel in Tahrir Square. The current Israeli ambassador has repeatedly said that before the recent riots at the embassy, he was never mistreated by the people. What ignited the anger of the young people who attacked the embassy was the killing of the servicemen in Egyptian territory in Sinai and statements of support for Mubarak as “the best friend of Israel” by officials in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.Skip to next paragraph
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Since the revolution, Egyptians feel that “we the people,” not the rulers, must decide what kind of relationship there will be with Israel. The desired peace in the region now requires peace with 90 million Egyptians and not with a single ruler who silenced them with his security forces.
Following Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the whole Middle East is now awakening. Naturally, the spirit of the Arab Spring will extend to Arabs in Palestine, who will demand the end of occupation just as Egyptians demanded the end of dictatorship.
In response, the major powers should not position themselves against the current of history. Instead, they should commit to ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the creation of a new state based on the pre-1967 war borders.
Such a course is in the best interests of the world community because it will minimize violence and shift the energies of the Arab people toward building their own states instead of perennially focusing on the conflict with Israel. At this decisive moment, whoever uses the Arab-Israeli conflict for political gain is guilty of a crime against hope.
The highest priority of all in this critical historical moment is not to allow the hopes and aspirations of the Arab Spring to be derailed by disunity or manipulation of the heated emotions that have long swirled around the central issue of peace in the Middle East.
Ahmed Zewail is the 1999 Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry, and the first US science envoy to the Middle East.