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Reassessing the Gains from Peace with Israel

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Eng. Saleem Al-Batayneh
Peace, a concept that holds the promise of harmony, coexistence, and prosperity, has long eluded the Arab-Israeli conflict. Over the years, multiple peace agreements have been signed, but the desired outcomes have remained elusive. As we reflect on 45 years of peace with Israel, it becomes increasingly important to reassess the gains and evaluate the path forward.
Mahmoud Darwish, a Palestinian poet, once compared peace agreements to descending from the tree of dreams into the cold reality. It is indeed challenging to achieve true peace when one party does not genuinely desire it and considers it a threat to their very existence. Despite Arab offers to share Palestine, Israel persists in its actions that result in the displacement of Palestinians. How can we establish peace with a party that refuses to accept it and continues to expand its dominance?
It is crucial to acknowledge the truth and move beyond rumination. Israel appears to disregard the considerations of peace, refusing to accept internationally recognized borders that would bind it under international law. The rejection of peace proposals put forth by the Arab nations further solidifies this mindset. Israel’s vision of peace seems rooted in ideas of superiority, domination, and subordination—a self-constructed narrative that allows it to act as it pleases, expanding at the expense of its neighbors.
Let us reframe the question: What kind of peace does Israel truly seek when signing agreements with Arab nations? Is peace with Israel comparable to peace with Iran, North Korea, or even Afghanistan? Do they seek peace solely with Arab rulers, excluding the participation of the peoples?
In retrospect, what have we gained from peace agreements? Egypt and Jordan, since signing their respective agreements, have transformed into neutral countries at best, serving as intermediaries on occasion. Jordan has experienced little tangible benefit on the ground, with the unfulfilled promise by former US President Clinton to pay off Jordan’s debts. These debts, which were once manageable, have now ballooned to over 60 billion.
For Palestinians, the hope for resolution based on the principle of “land for peace” has been shattered as Israel considers it obsolete. Instead, Israel promotes a new rule—peace in exchange for population exchange. This approach seeks to solidify Israel’s dominance, taking advantage of Arab support and the eagerness of Arab rulers to align themselves with Israel.
In the past, we chanted slogans like “There is no voice louder than the sound of battle!” Yet, battles were fought, and land was lost. The resounding “no’s” of Khartoum turned into “yes” while Israel maintained its firm stance. After these long years, it is clear that Arab peace agreements with Israel require critical review and analysis to understand why, despite the passage of more than four decades, the desired outcomes remain elusive.
It is essential to reassess our approach to peace and consider alternative avenues for redrawing the balance of power. The signing of peace agreements has often been perceived as an attempt to break the Arab will, rather than a genuine commitment to lasting peace. We must strive for a peace that upholds justice, respects international law, and ensures the rights and dignity of all parties involved.
As we look ahead, it is imperative to learn from the past, recognize the challenges, and explore new possibilities. True peace requires a mutual commitment from all parties involved, including the engagement of the people. It is through dialogue, understanding, and a genuine desire for coexistence that we can hope to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.

Al-Batayneh was a member of the Jordanian Parliament.