What’s next after Annapolis?

January 15, 2008 at 5:46 pm Leave a comment

Like his predecessor, Bill Clinton, President George Bush has miraculously discovered that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis needs a resolution. As Clinton tried to cram a compromise between Israel and the Palestinian Authority within a year, so is Dubya seeking closure with one year to go before the end of his second and final term in office.

Regardless of such simplistic thinking, there is a new impetus toward peace of some sort in the Middle East. What should the terms be?

The best resolution would create two states that respect each other’s existence. No settlements in the West Bank, no deletions of Israel from Palestinian textbooks. This pragmatism could bring peace, but hawks on both sides would not approve. After all, Hebron, in the West Bank, contains the Cave of Machpelah, where the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried. Meanwhile, the Palestinians whose ancestors fled the British Mandate in the 1948 War of Independence — or whose ancestors fell under Israeli occupation after the 1967 Six-Day War — would have to relinquish their long-sought Right of Return.

What right does an outsider like me have to suggest to Israelis and Palestinians what to do? It all sounds so easy here in Malden, Massachusetts. Still, at what cost do both sides wish to continue their mutually-destructive goals? More military and civilian deaths, and an unending sense of tension? That seems good enough for some. “Israel’s use of land for settlements conforms to all rules and norms of international law,” blathers a release from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. This, after an unending rain of Katyusha rockets causes panic in the border city of Sderot.

I’m not calling for Eretz Yisrael to go on a “land-for-peace” surrendering spree. But as the more militarily and politically powerful of the two sides in this conflict, Israel could do much for peace by halting the construction of settlements and strengthening its borders (the security wall, when legally constructed, has been a good idea in this case). If Israel stays strong, and Palestine responds in good faith as the Egyptians did under Anwar el-Sadat after Menachem Begin gave back the Sinai Peninsula, perhaps this last dream of Dubya’s will result in success.

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Entry filed under: international politics, Israel, Palestine, Politics, President Bush. Tags: , , , , .

Primary thoughts: Obama, Edwards, McCain Mitt takes Michigan; (South) Carolina on his mind

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