Why the window is closing on Middle-East peace
We're on the cusp of a generational shift that will make the dream of peace not just implausible but impossible.
New evidence that Bush undermined a two-state solution
George W. Bush's started a secret war on Hamas. Is Obama continuing it?
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr has announced a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. It's good news that the fighting will stop. But aside from the immediate cessation of hostilities there's little to cheer about. Here are three reasons why in the absence of considerable outside intervention, it's only a matter of time until war breaks out again. A comprehensive peace agreement is not in sight: Peace in the former Palestine rests not only on a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but on a comprehensive agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
It’s no secret that Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist faction that controls Gaza, has long considered exchanging its underground smuggling tunnels to Egypt for a policy of above-board trade. What has only recently begun to register is that Hamas may be contemplating a bolder political gambit still: Cutting its financial ties to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank, in preparations for declaring full independence on behalf of Gaza. Al-Hayat first reported the story on July 22.
If you want to know where the fourteen month-old Syrian revolution against President Bashar al-Assad is headed, the case of Walid al-Boustani provides a useful rubric. Al-Boustani led an ill-fated “Islamic Emirate of Homs” that lasted only a few weeks. Apparently the locals did not appreciate having an “Emir” who kidnapped and murdered their people while claiming to wage jihad against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received.
In his State Department speech last week, Barack Obama threw down the gauntlet to Benjamin Netanyahu. In the Oval Office a day later, and more fully in an address to Congress yesterday, Netanyahu picked it up and threw it right back. The question now is whether this clash can be turned into a new understanding between the United States and Israel that improves the prospects for the two-state solution both parties say they want. To bring this about, Obama will have to make further tweaks to his approach and rethink his declared stance on Palestinian refugees, among other matters.
Jerusalem—It was a nation of ambivalent Israelis that listened to President Obama’s latest Middle East plan—an interim agreement based on ending the occupation of the Palestinians while somehow ensuring the security of the Israelis. Israeli ambivalence is peculiar: It has nothing to do with uncertainty or confusion. Instead, to be an ambivalent Israeli is to be torn between two conflicting certainties.
Who lost Fayyad? This is the question that historians, and Israelis, and Palestinians, will ask about the most recent spiral into nothingness of the search for the necessary peace.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington is a good opportunity for the prime minister and President Obama to ponder why decades of strenuous diplomatic efforts and hundreds of billions in aid have done so little to advance peace or improve the lot of Palestinians, who still languish in refugee camps or in chronic penury under the oppressive rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. For decades, diplomats have been seeking formal peace based on the political separation of Jews and Arabs.