The conflict between West Bank Palestinians and Israeli soldiers will continue until the Arab world raises a voice of reconciliation or moderation, an Israeli diplomat said Monday in Salt Lake City.
"I don't see any reconciliation or voice of moderation forthcoming," Moshe Ram, deputy consul general of the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, said in a Deseret News interview. Ram spoke at Westminster College and at a Jewish community forum.He said that the PLO's printing of pamphlets, for example, is polarizing both Palestinians and Israelis. He said that such agitation must stop for an end to the conflict to come.
"The essence of the problem is still the refusal of the Arabs to recognize our existence. We have to be very, very sure to use territories as a bargaining chip very wisely," he said.
Ram said that Americans have a difficult time understanding the situation because there is no single easy answer to end the conflict. They also try to apply Western ethics in an arena where such ethics do not apply.
"The situation is so fragile because things are so uncertain. There is no way we can apply any magic formula. A conflict, which is an ongoing conflict for 100 years, cannot be solved within one or two days," he said.
He said the values of the Middle East are still in the making. The ability of enemies, such as Reagan and Gorbachev, to sit across the table is not even conceivable in a region where Israel's Arab neighbors will not recognize their existence.
"It is a world in which basic values of the Western world are not applicable," he said.
The present situation, said Ram, has resulted because the Palestinians have realized that the Arab world has recently put its concerns behind other issues like the Iran-Iraq war. The uprisings were a ploy to capture the world's attention and sympathy.
"They realized their issue was being relegated," said Ram, who believes the Palestinians are staging the violence to capture media attention. He said they also intentionally place women and children on the front lines to throw rocks to take advantage of rules imposed on Israeli troops.
He said the world has gotten a distorted image of the situation from the media. It is an irony that all of a sudden the aggressors have become the victims.
"They look for the drama. By doing this they are rendering a disservice to people," Ram said. "What is being missed by the media and the general perception is that the unrest on the West Bank is a stage of war."
Ram defended the actions of his government on the occupied West Bank, saying that the treatment of the Palestinians by Israelis is much better than if such violence would have erupted under its former Jordanian and Egyptian control.