Before you read this article there are a number of things that Mr. Scowcroft left out. I emphasized a couple of things in bold because of the utter importance of the statement.
Scowcroft was partially right when he said "Hezbollah is not the source of the problem; it is a derivative of the cause, which is the tragic conflict over Palestine that began in 1948." The problem goes a little bit further back to the promises of T.E. Lawrence and what Arnold Toynbee overheard British Prime Minister David Lloyd George say to himself at the Paris Peace Conference:
"Mesopotamia...yes...oil...irrigation...we must have Mesopotamia; Palestine...yes...the Holy Land...Zionism...we must have Palestine; Syria...h'm...what's there in Syria? Let the French have that."
What Toynbee overheard was precisely what this problem is about: giving other people's land to foreigners.
Other things that Scowcroft fails to mention is that his "opportunity" is extremely similar to the numerous offers that Israel has rejected over the past few decades. Most recently has been the Saudi Peace Plan (1981 and 2002) and the Geneva Accords. The latter can be viewed via the sidebar on this website. Both offers were rejected by Israel. Also, the "opportunity" mostly resembles the Fatah-Hamas agreement from late June 2006 than anything the Israeli or American government have endorsed.
If you bother to read the links you will notice that the offer in 2002 was rejected because Israel was not willing to give up land that it is legally obligated to give up since they took it illegally.
The offer can easily be found online here. Notice that the offer stated: "the Arab countries affirm the following: "I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region. II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace."
As for the Geneva Accords, simply read the last paragraph of the article to get the attitude of the Israeli government.
Keep in mind that these Arab offers that have existed for decades offer peace with Israel if they will simply adhere to international law; withdraw back to the 1967 borders, dismantle illegal settlements, allow a Palestinian state and the issues of Jerusalem and right of refugees to return varies depending on the offer, but all make considerable concessions or ask Israel to adhere to international law (the latter would mean Jerusalem goes to Palestine and the refugees are allowed to return). Again, these are basic requirments of international law.
Scowcroft also mentions "President Bill Clinton's efforts [that] collapsed in 2000."
According to Robert Malley, a Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs, was also a member of the US peace team and participated in the Camp David summit:
"The final and largely unnoticed consequence of Barak's approach is that, strictly speaking, there never was an Israeli offer. Determined to preserve Israel's position in the event of failure, and resolved not to let the Palestinians take advantage of one-sided compromises, the Israelis always stopped one, if not several, steps short of a proposal. The ideas put forward at Camp David were never stated in writing, but orally conveyed. They generally were presented as US concepts, not Israeli ones; indeed, despite having demanded the opportunity to negotiate face to face with Arafat, Barak refused to hold any substantive meeting with him at Camp David out of fear that the Palestinian leader would seek to put Israeli concessions on the record. Nor were the proposals detailed. If written down, the American ideas at Camp David would have covered no more than a few pages."
In the article Scowcroft says: "The current crisis in Lebanon provides a historic opportunity to achieve what has seemed impossible."
Why does he think the "opportunity.. seemed impossible" when the Arabs were offering it?
Scowcroft ignores alot in this piece.
It ignores what the US has been vetoing and what the Israelis have been rejecting.
This Is the Time for a U.S.-Led Comprehensive Settlement
By Brent Scowcroft
Sunday, July 30, 2006; Page B07
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated that a simple cease-fire in Lebanon is not the solution to the current violence. She says it is necessary to deal with the roots of the problem. She is right on both counts. But Hezbollah is not the source of the problem; it is a derivative of the cause, which is the tragic conflict over Palestine that began in 1948.
The eastern shore of the Mediterranean is in turmoil from end to end, a repetition of continuing conflicts in one part or another since the abortive attempts of the United Nations to create separate Israeli and Palestinian states in 1948. The current conflagration has energized the world. Now, perhaps more than ever, we have an opportunity to harness that concern and energy to achieve a comprehensive resolution of the entire 58-year-old tragedy. Only the United States can lead the effort required to seize this opportunity.
The outlines of a comprehensive settlement have been apparent since President Bill Clinton's efforts collapsed in 2000. The major elements would include:
· A Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with minor rectifications agreed upon between Palestine and Israel.
· Palestinians giving up the right of return and Israel reciprocating by removing its settlements in the West Bank, again with rectifications as mutually agreed. Those displaced on both sides would receive compensation from the international community.
· King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia unambiguously reconfirming his 2002 pledge that the Arab world is prepared to enter into full normal relations with Israel upon its withdrawal from the lands occupied in 1967.
· Egypt and Saudi Arabia working with the Palestinian Authority to put together a government along the lines of the 18-point agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah prisoners in Israeli jails in June. This government would negotiate for the Authority.
· Deployment, as part of a cease-fire, of a robust international force in southern Lebanon.
· Deployment of another international force to facilitate and supervise traffic to and from Gaza and the West Bank.
· Designation of Jerusalem as the shared capital of Israel and Palestine, with appropriate international guarantees of freedom of movement and civic life in the city.
These elements are well-known to people who live in the region and to those outside who have labored over the decades seeking to shape a lasting peace. What seems breathtakingly complicated, however, is how one mobilizes the necessary political will, in the region and beyond, to transform these principles into an agreement on a lasting accord.
The current crisis in Lebanon provides a historic opportunity to achieve what has seemed impossible. That said, it is too much to expect those most directly implicated -- Israeli and Palestinian leaders -- to lead the way. That responsibility falls to others, principally the United States, which alone can mobilize the international community and Israel and the Arab states for the task that has defeated so many previous efforts.