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"The Arab states are not seeking to wipe Israel off the map," Lebanese Prime Minister Faud Saniora claimed in a New York Times editorial on Friday morning. "Rather," he continued, "we are seeking the legitimate goals of an armistice, secure borders and the ability of all of the region's people to live in peace and security."
Saniora went on to say that the Winograd Committee's interim report on the Second Lebanon War failed to draw the most essential lesson that "military action does not give the people of Israel security," adding that compromise and diplomacy were the answer to instability.
"The only way for the people of Israel and the Arab world to achieve stability and security is through a comprehensive peace settlement to the overarching Arab-Israeli conflict," said the Lebanese prime minister.
Saniora hailed the Arab League Peace plan as the "only realistic path to peace" that conformed to all United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions addressing the conflict, and ensured the right of return of the Palestinian people.
Saniora criticized the Winograd interim report for making no mention of the damage inflicted on Lebanon and said that former chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz "came dangerously close to achieving his stated goal to turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years."
"He said that the heavy civilian death toll in the war epitomized the protracted injustice Arabs felt as a result of "Israel's record of destruction of their lives and livelihood, its oppression of the Palestinian people and its continued illegal occupation of Arab lands."
Saniora said that the war's outcome should be the impetus for Israel to seek a comprehensive solution based on the Arab peace initiative.
"The Winograd Commission's failure to discuss the war's implications for peace prospects leads one to wonder whether Israel would rather allow this conflict to fester as long as it is under relatively controlled conditions," he added.
The Lebanese prime minister wrote that "illegal occupations, over-flights, detentions, house demolitions, humiliating checkpoints, attacks and counterattacks" continued to heighten the anger and despair among the Arab people.
"The conflict has persisted for so long, generating so many tangled consequences, that diplomacy remains the only option" he continued.
Finally, the Saniora turned to the United States, saying that because of its "unique role in the world," it had a responsibility to display leadership and courage in helping the two sides achieve a just and lasting peace.
"Leading these peace efforts is not only an American responsibility, it is in the United States' interests: peace in the Middle East would offer a gateway to reconciliation with the Muslim world during these times of increased divisiveness and radicalism," he said.
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