MADRID, Spain – Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is key to any hope of curtailing global outbursts of violence, panelists at a summit on democracy, terrorism and security said Wednesday.
That's at the heart of Arabs' feelings of discrimination by foreign political, social and economic policies. What others call "terrorism," they may see as "resistance."
"I have a 17-year-old boy, Ali," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat (search). "I don't want him to become a suicide bomber" as a desperate way to achieve legitimate dreams including an independent state, viable homeland with Jerusalem as capital and right of refugees to reclaim lost land. "Help me. Help me put hope in his mind."
On the second day of the Club de Madrid's gathering of leading terrorism experts from 50 countries and about two dozen world leaders, panelists tried to identify the cultural and other causes of terrorism that might be addressed. They also nearly finished drafting recommendations they hope governments will implement to curtail the destabilizing global phenomenon.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) was due to arrive and meet with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (search) on Wednesday evening ahead of his presentation of a special U.N. report on terrorism at the conference Thursday.
Other world leaders scheduled to arrive Wednesday include Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Summit topics include terrorism financing, recruiting, and use of the Internet; and its impact on world business including tourism.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, the travel industry has had to respond to a "series of shocks (that) demonstrated tourism is very vulnerable but at the same time very, very resilient," said Francisco Franglais, the U.N.'s secretary general for world tourism.
On that day, "We were able to stop all air traffic to the United States in less than four minutes," said Victor Aged, director general of Eurocontrol, the European Union's advisory body on air traffic control. In the nearly four years since, the industry has had to adopt costly procedures, with airlines, airports and hotels bearing the brunt of the added cost.
About terrorism financing, former Romanian Prime Minister Petre Roman (search) acknowledged, "We don't have a clear image of how the money of terrorist moves around." But also, "We know that the most terrible acts have been committed with very little money."
The train bombings in Madrid last March 11 cost as little as $ 1,300, Roman said, while the September 11 suicide attacks in the United States didn't exceed half a million dollars.
"Without an international effort, we cannot tackle this problem efficiently," he said.
That international effort must take place within "the rule of law and respecting civil rights because they are the soul of democracy," said former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
Presidents, prime ministers and a couple of kings were expected for Annan's speech. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will represent President Bush. Human rights advocates have criticized the Bush administration because it has handed over terror suspects to foreign governments — a practice advocates say can lead to torture to elicit information that could not be obtained legally in the United States.
Gonzales has said the Bush administration receives assurances that suspects won't be tortured, though he has acknowledged the United States has little control once a transfer occurs.