Sunday, August 10, 2008

Posturing is hardly productive

Maybe they should stop all this posturing and get on with serious talks. Time is running out on the Israeli prime minister, the Bush administration and, probably, the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian Authority, and a promising opportunity is about to be squandered. Sunday's remarks to Fatah party loyalists by the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator with Israel demonstrates the precarious -- some would no doubt say hopeless -- condition of the negotiations. Ahmed told Fatah members that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could only be accomplished if Israel withdrew to its 1967 borders and abandoned the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the Jordan River or, barring that, if Israel agreed to allow all Palestinians stay where they are and become citizens. Of course, neither of these alternatives is a realistic possibility. Israel is not about to withdraw from all of the territories it captured after it was attacked by its Arab neighbors; Palestinians have not even accepted living peaceably alongside the Jewish state, much less inside it. In addition, the immediate political situations confronting both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not conducive to any kind of deal. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is being forced to resign and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has lost control of a major part of his territory to a competing group. No deal appears possible until both situations are resolved, meaning there is almost no hope of resolving the matter before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office in January. But people in the Middle East have lived together, though often in conflict, for thousands of years -- they apparently will continue to do so. Wouldn't a measured approach to peace be called for here?

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