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The Quiet Revolution - Politics of Peace


The big story in Israel and Palestine is one that hardly anyone has noticed. There are two election campaigns going on in parellel, and for the first time in memory, politicians on both sides of the Green line are not competing in bellicosity and aggressiveness. They are almost all trying to show how peaceful they are, and each trying to prove that their method is the best way to bring peace.

The contest between the Kadima party and the Israel Labor party is not over who will guard greater Israel better, but over who will oversee a more rapid and safer liquidation of the occupation. Even the Likud, for what it is worth, announced that it wants a negotiated solution.

Kadima party leader and acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, a former Likud member is going out of his way to project a moderate image. Olmert stated that he would want to resume negotiations with the Palestinians and PNA President Abbas immediately responded that he wants negotiations as well. Abbas also threatened to resign if his program for peace and other policies are blocked. This is NOT the sort of rhetoric we are used to from the Middle East.

More remarkable yet were several decisions taken by Olmert to the accompaniment of great publicity. First there was the attempt to evict lawless settlers who illegally occupy a part of the Arab Suq in Hebron. Olmert also gave orders to destroy illegal settlement outposts. Almost unbelievably, after more than two years of complaints by Palestinians and human rights groups, the Israeli government under Olmert finally took cognizance of the destruction and vandalism of Palestinian olive trees by settlers. Settler advocates reacted first by claiming that they didn't know anything about it, and then by claiming that Palestinians were destroying the trees, or that the IDF was pruning the trees, and finally by admitting that it is a crime.

It should be noted that none of these utterances on either side have as yet had any consequences. No outposts were removed as a result of Olmert's latest order. No olive tree vandals were convicted (one was apprehended to great fanfare). No settlers were removed from the Suq in Hebron. The Israeli government hasn't implemented the Gaza safe passage to the West Bank that has been promissed so often. Abbas did nothing at all to combat terror groups. Just today there was another Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. It is all empty talk thus far, "Khalam Fadi."

However, the timing of the empty talk is highly significant. These protestations of peaceful intentions and announced moves against settlers are part of two election campaigns. Until now, that would have been virtually impossible. The mood of the public has shifted, and politicians have quietly taken cognizance of the change. If before peace was politically impossible, it is now becoming a political imperative.

Ami Isseroff

Copyright 2006 by MidEastWeb for Coexistence and the author. You may forward this article, with the URL of the page, http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000422.htm , but you may not reproduce it in any other form without permission.

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000422.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 4 comments

I agree I see some changes in the way politicians are dealing with the conflict. Hopefully peace nogiations are resumed.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 01/20/2006 01:43 AM CST

I agree I see some changes in the way politicians are dealing with the conflict. Hopefully peace nogiations are resumed.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 01/20/2006 01:43 AM CST

I don't think this assessment is correct. When the Likud says it wants a negotiated solution, I think most of its supporters know that its objective is to find a way to stall peace not acheive it. The Likud and its supporters share with Kadima the assumption that peace is not possible. So by talking of negotiations what they say is that they will not give land for nothing.

Abbas's support for negotiations is not new. He would like to go back to a Oslo-like situation. It is also possible that he is hoping that he can actually wants to negotiate a final deal. I'm not sure. Maybe he believes that return to negotiations will strengthen him enough to actually make peace, or that the international community will force Israel, or something like that. Or maybe he is just hoping that his willingness to negotiate will make Israel look bad without actually doing anything as yet. In any case, except for Abbas, other Palestinian factions don't seem to talk about peace or negotiations. Only Abbas's faction, that don't have much else to offer the Palestinians but a return to Oslo.

Olmert's actions worry me more than fill me with hope. I'm happy he is attacking the settlers. Better late than never. It also makes them look bad. But the timing suggests that he is more interested in drawing voters from the left than from the right, which may mean he is more interested in weakening the left. I'm not sure.

Usually I fully agree with the analysis at this site, which seems to be aware of the full picture in a way most people are not. But this time is the exception.

Posted by Micha @ 01/21/2006 04:05 AM CST

This content contained spam. Each day, we deal with hundreds of spam letters and spam comments. What is the point of allowing these people to continue their vandalism? Isn't it time to do something?
I bet that email address is fake too.

Posted by -------- @ 01/26/2006 04:08 AM CST

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