Despite flotilla deaths, peace in the Holy Land is still in view

A handshake between Hussein I of Jordan and Yi...

Image of King Hussein, Bill Clinton, and Yitzhak Rabin via Wikipedia

They floated along Israel’s coastline, then came ashore – and when members of the PLO’s Fatah faction were through, more than 20 Israelis (including children) had been killed. Days later, Israeli troops entered Lebanon in what the New York Times called a “retaliatory raid.” It was March of 1978, and peace in the Holy Land never seemed so far away. Except that six months later, Israel and Egypt signed a historic accord that heralded a new era in Arab-Israeli relations. And then, the next year, more killings of Israelis and Palestinians, and more revenge killings. The Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982 signified how low the Arab-Israeli conflict could get – and yet, a decade later, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin were shaking hands on a new agreement for peace.

It doesn’t seem possible now, but Arab-Israeli peace is still a distinct possibility in the year ahead, despite the finger-pointing after Monday’s horrific flotilla fiasco. George Mitchell, President Obama’s special Middle East envoy, is scheduled to meet today and tomorrow with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. Peace is the Holy Land is a priority for the Obama administration, just as it is for hundreds of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians who are urging their support for a two-state solution through the OneVoice movement. It’s not all darkness in the Middle East, even though it seems that way now.

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4 Responses to Despite flotilla deaths, peace in the Holy Land is still in view

  1. Eileen White Read says:

    Well said. And the need to go back to the negotiating table was, I’m sure, hammered home by Obama when he spoke three times in recent days to Netanyahu. I expect he secured Netanyahu’s agreement to extend the settlements freeze too, in exchange for the U.S. watering down the United Nations Security Council resolution on Israel’s killing of nine civilians on the Gaza convoy. Both Israel and the Palestinians need the U.S., but as the occupying party, Israel needs to come to terms with the necessity of giving up territory. Its recent blunder could give the U.S. the leverage it needs over the far rightists who want to continue the occupation indefinitely.

  2. Mr. Curiel,

    I think that there may be a different read on events. Most people, even all but the most die-hard Israel supporters, are suggesting that the “Maramar Affair” was “dumb move”, i.e. very poorly thought out. Perhaps so but maybe not. Mr. Obama has been putting pressure on Israel to open new negotiations with its neighbors, including those in Gaza. Israel has been very reluctant to do this. In attacking these Turkish ships, Israel has foreclosed the possibility of negotiations for at least some time. Further, it forced Mr. Obama to take sides and quite naturally, if unfortunately, he took Israel’s side, further alienating the Turks and Arabs and further diminishing the ability of the US to play the fair broker role. Of course the whole thing could backfire, like various invasions of Lebanon have, but that does not mean it was not thought out with definite intentions.

    Was Israel stupid? Maybe, or perhaps as Homer Simpson once exclaimed “Yeah, stupid like a fox!”.

    • Thanks for your comments. I’m not convinced that Israel has shut off any talks with Hamas. Negotiations over Gilad Shalit, the captured Israeli soldier, are ongoing, even if — publicly — both sides say they’re at a stalemate. A breakthrough over Shalit could change many things.

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