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Why is there no Israeli-Palestinian peace?

04/08/2008

Jailed Palestinian Marwan Barghouti has sent a message to an Israeli Peace Now demonstration. It reads in part:

"I, Marwan Barghouti, am telling you that I and the majority of the Palestinian people are ready for a historic agreement based on international decisions that will allow a Palestinian and Israeli state to coexist, side by side, in peace and stability,"

Nobody should assume however, that peace is about to break out between Israel and the Palestinians.

Those who really want to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are increasingly frustrated by the fact that the solution seems so near, yet it is so far. Opinion polls always show that most Palestinian Arabs, and most Israeli Jews, are in favor of peace, and yet, it doesn't happen. Therefore it is customary to blame the leadership. But in 2000, Marwan Barghouti, who claims that he wants peace, was part of the leadership. He himself, documented his role in starting the violence that made peace impossible.

"... I saw within the situation a historic opportunity to ignite the conflict. The strongest conflict is the one that is initiated from Jerusalem..."

"...After Sharon left, I had stayed in the area for two hours with other well known people and we spoke about the character of the reaction and of how people should react in all the towns and villages and not only in Jerusalem. We made contact with all the factions."

"... I prepared a proclamation on behalf of the high Fatah committee in coordination with the brothers in which we called upon the people to react to what happened in Jerusalem. When I came back to Ramallah I continued the talks with the contacts I had gathered around me regarding the character of our activity and the continuation of the reaction. Source: Al-Ayyam, December 6, 2000, see The peace process is dead

Barghouti, who professes peace, may have had more to do with preventing peace in 2000 than any other Palestinian. When the "international decisions" he mentions are interpreted, will it develop that they refer UN Security Council Resolution 242? To UN General Assembly Resolution 181 which called for a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine, or will it turn out that Barghouti referred to the claimed right of Arab Palestinian refugees to return to Israel - UN General Assembly Resolution 194? Barghouti is not in jail for advocating peace, after all.

The mud does not stick to only one side. The Israeli government pledged to remove dozens of illegal outposts. Since it made that promise, it has removed 11 outposts it seems. Ten of them, are the same one, which was repopulated with settlers each time. Moshe Ahrens doesn't want a "Judenrein" Palestine, but it is doubtful he would agree to an Israeli withdrawal from the territories that would leave the settlers there, as citizens of a Palestinian state. The Israeli government announced plans to expand settlements, prompting Yasser Abed Rabbo to call for a halt to the negotiations. Saeb Erekat noted that the settlement expansion is "eating up" the credibility of the peace process.

Everyone wants peace it seems, but the devil is in the details. Palestinian Arabs want peace with "right" of return, and Israeli Jews want peace with settlements in Ariel and Har Choma. Palestinians and Israelis agree on one issue: they both want peace with the old city of Jerusalem, but each side wants it all to belong to them.

Two very perceptive and balanced reviews by Michael Young in the Beirut Daily Star and Jackson Deihl in the Washington Post. Briefly, any attempts to make peace have to reckon with the power of extremists to upset the apple cart.

Those who insist that the "Israel lobby" is blocking U.S. pressure on Israel should think again. Ehud Olmert is one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers in the history of Israel. His government hangs by a thread. Dramatic concessions to the Palestinians would cause that government to fall and be replaced by a government of the right. Polls show that the Likud party, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, would win a decisive victory if elections were held now. The Shas party keeps threatening to leave the government every time peace negotiations are mentioned.

Those who point out that the Palestinian Authority is not doing everything it could do to advance peace, have to reckon with the fact that that government is weak as well. On the Palestinian side, the Hamas blocks peace. The Palestinian Authority is not helping much when it praises "martyrdom operations" while behind the scenes winking at Israel to invade Gaza and remove the Hamas. The extremists on each side can point, with some truth, to the fact that the other side has not always acted in good faith. Some tentative good will measure were taken by Israel under pressure from US Secretary of State Rice, including removal of about 60 checkpoints and allowing deployment of Palestinian Authority forces in Jenin. These were immediately "balanced" by the leaked announcement of new settlement units. For their part, the Palestinians did not do anything at all to promote peace, other than allowing twelve more security prisoners to escape from their jails.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 6 comments

Barghouti may have had a role in the starting the Second Intifada or he may not have. Quite frankly I don't think it matters, seeing as everyone who is a key player in this conflict on both sides has blood on their hands. With regards to Barghouti and the right of return he has clearly stated his support of the Geneva Initiative http://www.geneva-accord.org/News.aspx?docID=2768&FolderID=42&lang=en. Barghouti is a very important ally to those who seek peace and he is very popular among Palestinians. Freeing him is in Israel's best interest.

Posted by Greg @ 04/08/2008 10:49 PM CST

this is not fair for poeple in palstine . i wish if boush died befor he was in this world we hate u boush .israel people are worst people ever . and try to come back to palstine and see what will happen to them

Posted by razan @ 04/25/2008 03:29 PM CST

this is good info for school projects

Posted by josh @ 04/30/2008 03:48 PM CST

yea well we hate you razan. come to america and you'll see what will happen to you

Posted by jdunmanned @ 05/05/2008 04:16 PM CST

I have two comments. 1. You need to have a print button so we can print the article and not the advertising. This would be most helpful to your readers. 2. It would also be Helpful to understand why both sides won't honor an agreement or start with small ones to build up to one that will hold to bring peace. Thanks.
Bob

Posted by Bob RIchie @ 05/26/2008 11:00 PM CST

**** you

Posted by asdf @ 05/30/2008 09:34 PM CST


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