Saturday, November 18, 2006

Time for something positive to finally happen

In many respects, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict could not be worse. The PA is ruled by Hamas, a rejectionist Palestinian movement, who are utterly incapable of recognising Israel. The Pal. territories are in anarchy, particularly the Gaza strip where a major humantarian crisis seems in the offing.

On the Israeli front, we have a leadership utterly incapable of developing a diplomatic agenda apart from some new "creative ways" of using military means against the Palestinians. According to a report in the British Sunday Times (which is known for its reliable scoops) Olmert has ordered the IDF to assassinate members of the political wing of Hamas, a foolish policy in my opinion. Beyond that Israeli leaders have gone back to trying to scare the living shit out of Jews and Israelis in relation to the Iran issue; yes - the issue is serious but the recent speaches given at the GA Assembly were ridiculous, and seemed at leasted in Olmert's case to be another diversion from dealing with the Pal. issue.

In short, what we are seeing is an utterly hopeless situation, the two state solution further from reality and no intelligent policy emerging from either sides.

A new European proposal has just been released, which seems on face value a step in the right direction, which calls for a cease fire, followed by the release of prisioners and the emergence of a national unity PA govt. According to reports in Haaretz, FM Livni has rejected "out of hand" the proposal and is annoyed that Israel was not consulted.

A piece in Haaretz on friday suggests that a far more signicant proposal may be in the offing. It is reported that Yossi Beilin has crafted after having consulted or relevant parties within the territories a detailed documents setting out a process to get Israel from the current track towards final status negotiations. Details are still thin and I haven't been able to see what it is involved. I sense its likely to be significant. One has to admire Beilin's perseverence. Many indeed credit his "Geneva Initiative" with partly spurning Sharon towards the disengagement plan. That is Sharon, seeing that the world may put pressure on Israel to make really sign. withdrawals (such as in the Geneva Initiative) saw disengagment as the best worst option. The thing with Beilin one has to admire is his ability to go to detail and to provide an alternative non-violent approach to conflict resolution as opposed to the rather lame and pathetic attempts the current Israeli govt. has engaged in conflict resolution.

My sense is that in the next two weeks something significant will happen. I am not sure what - but the current situation in Gaza can not continue for much longer. Something has to give.

The plans for an "operation defensive shield" in Gaza would be a disaster. Should the current policy vacuum continue, however, such a course may prove inevitable. Something different needs to be tried: not the same lame responses.


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