On The Path To Peace

David Brooks has an insightful column on how the Middle East is defying expectations:

How did we get to this sudden moment of cautious optimism in the Middle East? How did we get to this moment when Egypt is signing free trade agreements with Israel, when Hosni Mubarak is touring Arab nations and urging them to open relations with the Jewish state? How did we get to this moment of democratic opportunity in the Palestinian territories, with three major elections taking place in the next several months, and with the leading candidate in the presidential election declaring that violence is counterproductive?

How did we get to this moment of odd unity in Israel, with Labor joining Likud to push a withdrawal from Gaza and some northern territories? How did we get to this moment when Ariel Sharon has record approval ratings, when it is common to run across Israelis who once reviled Sharon as a bully but who now find themselves supporting him as an agent of peace?

Indeed, Ariel Sharon now enjoys a wave of popular support although it is still an open question if his Gaza disengagement plan will succeed. As I predicted before, Sharon is following in the footsteps of Yitzhak Rabin and pursuing the path to peace. However, unlike Rabin he does not have to deal with the unbending radicalism of Yassir Arafat and can deal with a Palestinian leadership that has more flexibility to pursue a negotiated settlement. With Hosni Mubarak calling for dialog, the chances for peace in 2005 are greater than they have been in years.

Brooks notes that it is Bush and Sharon, two of the most reviled figures among the pro-Palestinian crowd, who have gotten Israel and Palestine to this place. Sharon’s attacks on the leadership of Hamas helped weaken that agency while the security barrier prevented the terrorist attacks that had previously given the terrorists leverage. President Bush’s refusal to legitimize Arafat’s disingenuous calls for “peace” ensured that Arafat could no longer grandstand while trapped in his Mukata compound by Israel.

The only way there will be peace in the Middle East is when the Palestinians recognize the fundamental right of Israel to exist. While there are hopful signs, the climate of hatred in the Palestinian territories remains strong. Abbas still appears with the Fatah flag showing all of Israel subsumed into Palestine along with calls to martyrdom and jihad. The chances of a peaceful settlement of this heated conflict are great, but so are the chances that it could fail and the bloody status quo continue unabated.

7 thoughts on “On The Path To Peace

  1. “Bush and Sharon have gotten Israel and Palestine to this place”

    Where Israel and Palestine are today is a desirable place to be??? I guess only if you think things are going well in Iraq…aside from the negativity of the U.S. media, of course, who have the audacity to report the carnage incurred by hourly insurgent attacks.

    And of course people like Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ehud Barak had nothing to do with improving relations between Israel and Palestine. The concept of peaceful settlement in the Middle East was something George Bush and Ariel Sharon invented back in 2001.

  2. Except that Clinton, Rabin, and Barak didn’t achieve anything close to peace, and instead were foolish enough to trust Arafat.

    Of course, the real blame lies solely with Yassir Arafat. His refusal to accept the terms offered at Taba in 2000 was an unconscionable act, and even Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia stated that he would have blood on his hands for every death that resulted from his walking away from the negotiating table.

    The chances of peace now are infinitely greater than they were five years ago, thanks in large part to Sharon’s security barrier and the death of Arafat.

  3. I don’t understand that – “the fundamental right of Israel to exist”? Israel exists, yes, but I don’t see how they have a more fundamental “right” to do so more than any other country.

  4. Jay is not arguing for Israel to have a “more” fundamental mright to exist, just the mere acknowledgement from their neighbors that they do have a fundamental right to exist. Without the “right of return” that would spell the end of Israel as a nation.

  5. That makes more sense, but what gives a nation a “fundamental” right to exist? I mean, does Chechneya have a fundamental right to exist seperately from Russia? Did the US have a fundamental right to exist seperately from England?

    It seems that the only rationale for this “fundamental right to exist” is that might makes the right to exist, or in the case of Chechneya, recinds that right. So if the Palestinians do wind up driving Israel into the sea, and destroying it as an independant country, wouldn’t that prove that Israel had no fundamental right to exist?

    I’m not saying that they should, of course, but I don’t understand where this right to exist derives from.

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