The last few months we have all witnessed sweeping changes in much of the Arab world. It started in Tunisia with
the overthrow of corrupt President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, snowballing into Egypt with Mubarak's downfall.


Yemen has chronic civil hiccups with its leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the demonstrations there are lower key. Oman is also showing signs of unrest, but that seems under control for the time
being. Bahrain
is in the game as well with demonstrations followed
by an uneasy calm.


The bloodiest and most serious uprising is in Libya where deaths are now running into the thousands with
total chaos continuing unabated. Qaddafi is still clinging on to power
tenaciously. The Libyan situation has degenerated
into civil war. Qaddafi's power base is weakening but the fight will be tedious
and long.


It is impossible to predict which Arab country will be next in line for revolution. Even Iran - a non-Arab country - has had some unrest but Ahmadinajad's security forces have succeeded to suppress unrest
wherever it has occurred. The Iranian dictatorship is strong and the Basij of Ahmadinajad is cruel and


How will all these changes in the Arab world affect the Palestinian people? At this stage it is difficult to say. We are all aware that since the uprisings against the oppressive
despotic regimes in the Middle East, the
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has been put on the back-burner.

No doubt, the effects of the uprisings will also influence Palestinian thinking and attitudes towards the autocratic dictatorships that are leading them whether it is
Hamas-controlled Gaza
or the Fatah-controlled West Bank.


The uprisings in the various autocratic states of the Middle East despite their ethnic and environmental differences have the same goals - goals of individual
freedom, democracy, improved economic conditions, which have been denied the
majority of Arab people in their respective countries and this includes lack of
jobs and opportunities for newly qualified professionals. These problems exist in the West Bank and Gaza as well. The leaders
of both Palestinian areas are as anti-democratic as their despotic counterparts
in the Arab world. Added to these problems are the problems created by the
Israeli occupation and the continuing of building illegal settlements in areas
designated to be the future Palestinian state.


If there are no peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people then it is hard to imagine how the impasse
between Israelis and Palestinians will ever be solved.


A possible scenario that could occur is that if peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians do begin, there could be an insurrection as is occurring
in the Arab world resulting in the fall of the non-democratic governments in
the West Bank and Gaza.
If this happens, there could be chaos and there would be no representatives to
negotiate with Israel.
On the other hand, an insurrection against Hamas and Fatah could have a
positive effect on the peace process as a new order could be more amenable to
democracy and steer away from Islamic extremism. The situation is so
unpredictable that anything unexpected can occur.


The Palestinian people have had enough suffering and hardships. They all want peace and are tired of the conflict. They want independence from the Israeli occupation as well as
achieving democracy like their Arab counterparts in the uprisings against their
ruling autocrats. The stalemate between Israel
and the Palestinians could be ended when the old despotic Fatah and Hamas
regimes are overthrown as in Tahrir
Square in Cairo.


Israel must also change its attitude and be prepared to end the occupation. Settlements on Palestinian occupied territory must be frozen and the illegal settlers must be resettled within the green line. Any government that
takes over after a possible uprising in the Palestinian occupied lands will oppose
the oppressive occupation. Israel
must be prepared to end the occupation without compromising the security of its
citizens. Riding out "the winds of change" in the Middle
East is no option. Dialogue must begin now! President
Mahmoud Abbas could be viewed as the "Mubarak" of the Palestinians by
the Palestinians themselves. If this occurs, the road to peace will be even
more complicated if Israel
does not change its attitude towards the occupation and take concrete steps to
end it. Israel
had relied on Mubarak, the dictator, as a broker to maintain peace. Israel like the
rest of the world never expected his fall from power.


Now, more than ever before, are opportunities to end the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Failure to do so could be disastrous and another of many opportunities would be lost to the
detriment of all parties involved.


Islamic extremism is now not the issue in the Arab world. The Arab people realize that Islamic extremism is against democracy and human rights. Hamas is no less on the firing line than
any other despotic regimes in the Arab world. The young people of Palestine also know that
like their Arab counterparts, they are being exploited by autocratic religious


It is hoped that Israel heeds the wake up call and ceases to play into the hands of its right wing, racist extremists, who are part of its macabre vision-less, unimaginative coalition.


Why should it be dangerous for Israel
if it is joined by new democracies in the Middle East?
What is occurring now in the Middle East
proves that nothing is impossible

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