As many commentators have pointed out, the uprisings across the Middle East have once and for all disproved the theory that most of the problems in the Muslim world are somehow related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the Washington Times yesterday, Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, noted the fallacy of the “linkage” concept and outlines what this means for the peace process:
Precisely those who feel that a utopian Middle East will exist after Israeli and Palestinian leader sign their name on a piece of paper demonstrate a lack of understanding of the issues at stake and make it harder for the conflict to be resolved. …
Unfortunately, radical elements in our region will remain long after the ink on any agreement has dried. To fully grasp this, we just need to listen to the radical elements themselves. In 1996, al Qaeda rose to prominence with Osama bin Laden’s fatwa or “declaration of war.” The long, rambling fatwa stood at more than 11,000 words, railing against everything deemed unacceptable to his brand of militant Islam. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict barely appeared and was nothing more than a footnote to all the general grievances laid out by bin Laden.
Ayalon writes that, before signing a peace agreement, Israel “needs to know that it is permanent, stable and secure, and not subject to changing circumstances.”
This turns the linkage theory completely on its head. Instead of trying to solve the problems of the Muslim world through the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, it now seems more likely that a peace agreement won’t be signed until the current grievances across the Middle East are resolved.