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Baby Steps

While the cease fire announced today is but a first step down a difficult road it should be greeted with optimism.

SHARM EL SHEIK, Egypt (AP) - In a crucial step heralded as a fresh start to peacemaking, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas promised Tuesday to halt all acts of violence and agreed to meet again soon to tackle the tougher issues that for decades have blocked the road to peace.

Even if their cease-fire pledge sticks, much negotiating lies ahead as the two sides work to rebuild the trust destroyed in four years of deadly attacks.

"What we agreed upon today is simply the beginning of the process of bridging the gap," Abbas said after his first face-to-face meeting with Sharon since succeeding Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian leader made clear the two sides have yet to wade into more fundamental issues, including control of Jerusalem and "the settlements, the release of prisoners, the wall."

The speeches by the two leaders at this Egyptian resort, broadcast live on Israeli and Arab TV stations, were greeted with a mixture of hope and skepticism on a cold, rainy day back home. Many people said they would settle for modest improvements in their daily lives.

Much to the dismay of Bush critics the "hands off" approach to the Palestinian situation appears to be paying dividends. Now that Arafat is out of the equation look for the Bush administration to expend more political and economic capital on bringing about a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.


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Comments (12)

Well, Arafat was certainly ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Well, Arafat was certainly perpetuating violence, not to perpetuate violence by writing what I just wrote, as to those who found the man endearing.

There's got to be a solution and while it is actually most sensible based upon history, near and far, to say that peace will never exist, it has to start somewhere. As with everyone, there, here. Everyone has to just stop the violence and start trying to communicate, despite the problems involved, which I recognize are huge.

Sorry if I'm not quite up t... (Below threshold)
Kin:

Sorry if I'm not quite up to sharing your optimisim.
A) The militant groups have already claimed Abbas doesn't speak for them and they'll do what they want.
B) Unless the Palestinians change their basic negotiating stance then there is no possibility for any advancement. (In relationship to the right of return, specificially.)
C) Can someone please show me where this has worked anywhere in the world in the past.

The Hebrew phrase for cease fire is hafsakat eish (which is literally translated to fire break/shooting break). The last time there was a cease fire agreement, the joke around here was...what do you get on a coffee break (hafsakat caffe). You get more coffee. The same thing you get from a cease fire around here. Since it generally works out to Israel pulling back from what ever defensive posititions they've taken and the Palestinians taking advantage of this to re-arm and move back into strategic points to once more continue attacks on the civilian population.

So, excuse my skepticism.

There is no peace "carrot" ... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

There is no peace "carrot" to dangle in front of a group of people who use this as their constitution.

http://www.fateh.net/e_public/constitution.htm

Article 12 states:
Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.

That says a lot for the chance of two states coexisting, and not one bit of it good. Read the whole thing if you have the time. Changing Arafat out for Abbas isn't likely to accomplish much, the new boss is just like the old boss, just like the songs says. It's going to take a lot more than an "Open Under New Management" sign to fix anything as long as the employee handbook stays the same.

I cannot help but wonder if... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I cannot help but wonder if but what Israel and Palestine are suffering from some massive area wide psychosis...if everyone is determined that no peace is possible, that all efforts are not constructive and will result in repeating the same destructive past experiences, then nothing ever changes.

So far, every time there is an attempt to resolve problems, BOTH Isreal and Palestine begin recanting the litany of problems of the others and again the violence escalates. So, it's never going to be possible unless everyone starts thinking and reasoning differently. Like for instance, both Israel and Palestine consenting to give to one another something they value as possession...things of that nature. Because if everyone consistently focuses on what they must have and must keep and what the other cannot have or is "going to" take, then again, peace is never possible unless there is destruction of one or the other but in this case, probably both.

Peace involves making concessions, by all involved. I realize it might sound simple but what else can occur that hasn't alraedy as to outrage and horrible offense? Israel refers to nuclear capability but then what? That'd mean that other countries would involve likewise and all that would result would be more nuclear war. Which isn't a solution. What I am writing here is that both Isreal and Palestine will never be able to coexist unless all involved decide to do so. Until and unless they don't, there will never be any lasting peace between them.

Israel should not make ANY ... (Below threshold)
Jameel Rashid:

Israel should not make ANY territorial concessions to the Palestinians. All they are doing is proving that terrorism pays. Crime pays. Israelis have been shelled in the Gaza strip by over 5000+ missiles in the past 4 years -- so what does Israel do? Capitulate to Terrorism.

From now on - this gives the Palestinians the ultimate impetus to continue their holy jihad against Israel. Plus, as a bonus, Israel is releasing 900 "freedom fighting" civilian slaughtering terrorists. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Morally, there should be no statute of limitations on murder of civilians. Kicking the Israelis out of their homes in Gaza is the most unjust thing of all. Jews can live anywhere in the world - but in the homes they built in the desert, in Israel.

Plenty of Arabs living in Israel...

In my opinion...IF t... (Below threshold)

In my opinion...IF the Palestinians play by the rules and don't support terrorism, start taking care of their citizens, and prove it by actions, not by words...then and only then should they get a state.

However, there is only ONE thing they should NEVER get: a piece of Jerusalem. That belongs to ISRAEL! The Palestinians can have their capital at Ram Allah!

Hezbollah's already offerin... (Below threshold)

Hezbollah's already offering $100,000 of Iran and Syria's money to recruit suicide bombers.

And Al-Aqsa is angry that Hezbollah's doing it because that's THEIR talent pool.

Try not to get caught up in the MSM hype. As CQ says, it's a triangle offense with MSM getting the assist.

The following was broadc... (Below threshold)
Jameel Rashid:

The following was broadcast this past Friday on PA TV (financed by USAid), by the official Religious Cleric of the PA (and the official PA Friday sermon)

Preacher– Ibrahim Mudyris:
"We do not love any land more than the land of Palestine. Had the Jews not expelled us from it with their plains, their tanks, their weapons, their treachery around us, we would never leave you, Oh Palestine”. (Quotes Muhammad who promised he would return to Mecca as a conqueror).
“We tell you Palestine, we shall return to you, by Allah’s will, We shall return to every village, every town, and every grain of earth which was quenched by the blood of our grandparents and the sweat of our fathers and mothers. We shall return, we shall return. Our willingness to return to the 1967 borders does not mean that we have given up on the land of Palestine. No! We ask you: Do we have the right to the 1967 borders? We have the right. Therefore, we shall realize this right with any mean it takes. We might be able to use diplomacy in order to return to the 1967 borders, but we shall not be able to use diplomacy in order to return to the 1948 borders. No one on this earth recognizes the 1948 borders . Therefore, we shall return to the 1967 borders, but it does not mean that we have given up on Jerusalem and Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, Natanyah and Tel Aviv . Never. We shall return to every village we had been expelled from, by Allah’s will. Why? All the international laws deny the Palestinians their real borders. We might agree, but in the name of Allah, our grandfathers’ blood demands that we return to them . Your father’s blood was shed there, at the villages, at Ashqelon, at Ashdod, at Hirbia and at others places, hundreds of villages and towns. demands it from us, and it shall curse anyone who will concede a grain of earth of those villages. Our approval to return to the 1967 borders is not a concession for our other rights. No!... this generation might not achieve this stage, but generations will come, and the land of Palestine... will demand that the Palestinians will return the way Muhammad returned there, as a conqueror”.

I have seen two truly amazi... (Below threshold)
ridgerunner:

I have seen two truly amazing events in my lifetime. One was the fall of the Berlin wall and the Soviet Empire. The other is the Iraqi vote. Since this seems to be the age of miracles perhaps we are seeing the beginning of peace for Israel and Palestine.
IMO the most immediate obstacle to peace is the existance of armed terrorist groups within the Palestinian area whose power possibly equals or exceeds that of the Palestinian Authority. I truly doubt the ability of the PA to control these people without fighting a civil war.

S wrote:What I ... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

S wrote:

What I am writing here is that both Isreal and Palestine will never be able to coexist unless all involved decide to do so. Until and unless they don't, there will never be any lasting peace between them.

I totally agree with you. I dont know whether to be optimistic or not about it, but I agree with what you're saying: they have to decide that they want to co-exist, that they are willing to work together. Hopefully, some day, they can.

I understand that the situation is complicated, and that there are many people to blame, and many people who have acted terribly in the matter. But the heart of the problem is this: there are two sides, and both a certain claim to the same land. You may favor one side or another, but thats the main problem. So really the only solution is that that have to find a way to co-exist peacefully. Otherwise the warfare will go on and on as it has been.

Palestinians have a claim in that they lived in those lands for quite a long time before '48. The Israelis have a deep historic claim, along with the claim from living there the past 50 something years.

I would also say that the blame lies on both sides. Neither has been the paragon of virtue in the matter.

Ridgerunner:IMO... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

Ridgerunner:

IMO the most immediate obstacle to peace is the existance of armed terrorist groups within the Palestinian area whose power possibly equals or exceeds that of the Palestinian Authority.

Ya...because no matter what the PA agrees to, ceasefires or whatever, it doesnt matter if they cant control the actions of such groups...and that undermines the whole thing.

Speaking of leading with a ... (Below threshold)
James:

Speaking of leading with a "carrot", howsabout we use the wonders of capitalism to achieve peace?

1.) Both parties (PA and Israeli gov't) put several hundred million, or even several billion dollars in escrow with a disinterested third party -- Switzerland, perhaps? The money should probably earn a return of some sort, perhaps comparable to a bond, or some stable commodity like gold.

2.) Each (civilian?) citizen of either side that is killed in the conflict, their family gets, say, $100k from the opposition's escrow fund. Hamas counts as "opposition" to Israel.

3.) Each side is required to maintain a minimum balance in their fund, though starting balance should be fairly high.


This way, the PA has a real, immediate incentive to stop violence. Hamas kills 50 Israeli school children? Costs 'em $5 mil. "That's not fair, we don't control Hamas", says the PA. Fuck that, get a handle on your own people; we didn't "control" Al Capone but we didn't sit on our fucking hands while he ran around killing people, we brought him down.


Propose this plan, and see the reaction. The clear message to Palestine is: if you really care, put your money where your mouth is.




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