By Yvonne Ridley
is the real road map to peace
politicians across the world who have used their country's superpower
status and might to bully others into submitting to their demands
will be watching the Viva Palestina convoy in disbelief tomorrow.
The mile-long convoy of 100 plus vehicles and 315 drivers and peace
activists will drive through the border in what is supposed to be
a low key event, but the significance of that small journey can
not be over estimated.
Although there are still thousands of miles separating the convoy
from its end game of delivering aid to Gaza, Saturday's border crossing
is the one which will be recorded in the history books.
Morocco and Algeria agreed to put aside their differences to open
their land border for the first time in 15 years for the sake of
Palestine has often been described as the key which can open the
door to Middle East peace, but tomorrow it will open a door in the
Maghreb which has been tightly shut since 1994.
This wonderful gesture is something Condaleezza Rice failed to persuade
the neighbouring countries to do - her last attempt before the departure
of George W Bush was made in September.
But the peace mission and genuine humanitarian nature of the Viva
Palestina convoy has melted the hearts of those on both sides of
this vital land border which, when opened, will ease the passage
of those carrying more than one million pounds of aid for Gaza.
Relations between the two countries have seen no significant improvement
since the border closed in 1994 and in view of the severe socioeconomic
and security challenges facing them and the Maghreb region at large,
the cost of their antagonistic relationship has never been greater,
according to some analysts.
The border was first shut as a consequence of the Sahara war, and
remained closed into the eighties. In 1994, it was shut again, after
a terrorist strike on a hotel in Marrakech.
Although Algiers quickly offered condolances, Rabat accused Algerian
secret services had directed the attack. Crisis followed, and visas
were imposed, borders shut, and thousands of Algerians tourists
Recently, however, Morocco began publicly asking Algeria to reopen
the borders, which Algeria refuses to do, and, indeed, generally
avoids to even comment on.
But both sides have stepped aside for their mutual love and affection
for the people of Palestine and, in particular to show their solidarity
to the people of Gaza.
It is an astonishing gesture and both countries are to be congratulated
on this generous move.
example of when people lead, the leaders will follow. Now the big
question is, will Viva Palestina's mascot and symbol make it through
the crossing tomorrow? Fes mechanics are working hard as I write,
to get the lead Fire Engine from Lancashire back on the road after
The Fire Engine is back on the road thanks to the hard working mechanics
Haroon and Ilyas from Dewsbury West Yorkshire, led by Imran bin
Abu in Convoy Group 5.
* Yvonne Ridley and film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani are part of
the Viva Palestina convoy making a documentary recording the historic