Monday, November 26, 2007

Possibilites and Peace: All in Vain?

This week, Israeli, Arab and American leaders and diplomats meet in Annapolis, MD to try and hammer out a Middle East peace deal that all sides (and this is this blogger's hope) look to have lasting, positive impacts. Bush's two-state plan will be discussed, as well as several of the classic points that have always made their way onto the agenda of these American-brokered negotiations. From border redrawings to refugees to national identity recognition, all that will be discussed is vital in and of itself to Israelis and Palestinians, and each issue impacts the greater Middle East in uniquely profound ways. reports of President George W. Bush's optimism about the talks, this following his meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. This president's optimism, it should be noted, is as dependable to go on as Iago's advice to Othello. The outline of what is to be discussed has yet to be agreed upon, Syria has, at the eleventh hour, decided to join the negotiations and they haven't agreed on the agenda, and representatives from Hamas were not invited, despite the fact that they control the Gaza Strip, home to over one million Palestinians. Further undermining Mr. Bush's optimism (or it should, at least) is the fact that Iraq's democratic project has yet to yield any political results since the "Surge", and the diplomatic showdown with Iran leaves open questions to Tehran's military support of Hezbollah and Hamas. Nevertheless, Mr. Bush is positive he can work something out, and in the end, possibly steal the Nobel Peace Prize President Clinton lost due to his failure to bang out a pragmatic agreement.

Of course, a pragmatic agreement should be the goal, but it never seems to be the aim of these summits. What's going on between Hamas in Gaza and Western Israel is nothing short of war, just as that between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is nothing short of civil war. Yet, Hamas is absent from the negotiations, despite being democratically elected in a Western-sponsored election. Many will say consequences follow democratic elections (we should know), and that the Palestinians must deal with the consequences of electing Hamas. Those same critics always fail to note the precarious position the West and Israel placed Palestinians in, resulting in these two choices: a corrupt incumbency that's done little to improve living standards, or a militant organization at constant war with the obvious aggressor, Israel (obvious to Palestinians, of course). There's no excusing Hamas shelling western Israeli towns and suicide bomb runs, and Israel must retaliate beyond accordingly. But to negotiate sans your enemy does more than further antagonizes him; it makes him an entrenched obstacle to any implementation of policies agreed upon by "all" sides. also has a piece highlighting the pessimism among Palestinians and Israelis, those living under the current system, and who will live under any agreeable condition. They've been here before, as have we all, watching America take the lead in something no other Middle Eastern state seems capable of handling, if indeed they had the stomach to. It's a process led by history, and that's always the first mistake. Rarely, if ever, has there ever been an analyses of the status quo and future aspirations of the peoples involved. Whether it was Arafat unreasonably demanding the return of every Palestinian refugee or Barrack irresponsibly agreeing to partition Jerusalem, there's never been any lasting agreement because the most dominant player, and peace broker, doesn't live with the consequences of the decision. Instead of leading negotiations, the U.S. should propel Mid East leaders to assume such a role.

I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt much will change come next week. Israelis on the Golan Heights will continue to feel at home, but not at peace. A Hamas soldier will be ready for another day of battle with the Zionist occupiers. And a region rich in history, culture and bloodshed will continue to spiral away from a world advancing and modernizing.

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