Sunday, February 10, 2013

New Palestinian-Israeli peace initiative?

This article by David Horzany may be the best and most hopeful article on the results of the Israeli election I have read. I was myself very surprised by the strength of the liberal-left vote in the election in Israel and am wondering if the television personality Yair Lapid is able to create a working majority in the Knesset that may re-start peace talks with Abbas in the West Bank, at least, and maybe stop the madness of the settler movement.

Plus, there may well be another opportunity for peace with Hamas, especially as Ha'aretz is reporting that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal is stating even more clearly his support for a two state solution. I find Meshal's remarks amazingly hopeful as they come just weeks after Israeli bombers killed his friend and his subsequent public abandonment of his pro-peace negotiations with Israel position he has mostly held since 2008. It is apparent Meshal sees the election results as Horzany and I do, and believes at some point, Israelis and Palestinians have to stop killing each other.

The saddest thing to me about the last six years is how often Meshal has made statements that are legitimate peace overtures, and how successive Israeli governments have refused to engage with the peace process in good faith. Under Olmert in 2006 and then especially under Netanyahu, the Israeli rightward leadership has abandoned the two state solution--and believe Israel is in the later stages of its takeover of most of the West Bank--and thereby want instead to fulfill their dream of a "Greater Israel." If the rightward majority holds in the Knesset because Lapin sides with Netanyhau, we are likely to see Netanyahu demand "conditions" in order to humiliate Palestinian leaders and delay the peace process. We are also likely to see Israel continue to build settlements, even while proclaiming a "freeze," a favorite tactic of many Israeli governments, whether centrist or right. And then, we'll know the annexation of the West Bank and the further undermining of Israeli democratic values remain the true goals--not peace.

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