Another Thought on Israel-Palestinian Peace Negotiations

Recently a New York times articles explained how close Israel and the Palestinian Authority were to completing a peace treaty under Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert.  Upon further reflection, I have some doubts.  It is in the interests of both Abbas and Olmert to exaggerate the proximity of a deal.  Olmert wants to contrast himself  with Netanyahu and present himself as great Israeli leader.  Abbas wants the West to think how great he is for giving up so much to the Israelis.

But the question is twofold:  Is Abbas ready to give up the right of return for millions of Palestinians (which is the only way for Israel to remain a Jewish state), to reject the demands of militant members of Fatah,  to accept Israeli authority over some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, to acknowledge that Jews have some rights on the Temple Mount (which is also the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock), and to stop engaging in antisemitic rhetoric, particularly in its schools?  Is Israel ready to take a risk on a Palestinian Authority that has had a history of corruption and not following through on its commitments, to remove settlers who may well respond violently against the Israeli military, to remove its authority from sites and places that have a centuries-long Jewish presence, to surrender military and security advantages, and to allow East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital?

I am not sure that either side is prepared to act at this time.  The biggest challenge for both will be the militant, violent opponents of peace and reconciliation:  some Jewish settlers, as well as  militant members of Fatah and Islamist Hamas.  I don’t believe that either Israel or the PA has confidence in taking that risk without substantial support from the U.S.  And even with it, the Palestinians may need to continue their economic and political development to a point where Palestinian political leaders can face down militant ideologies and where Israel can have confidence and trust in taking a substantial risk– both internally with some potentially violent settlers and externally with a group that has historically hated Israel and wished to annihilate it.

Still everyone knows the outlines of a deal.  While the recent tectonic shifts in the Middle East could usher in a period of instability and tension, they also have a real possibility of producing authentic democratic, free societies, capable of dealing with a Jewish state.  This could therefore be a time out of which a meaningful agreement might emerge.  We shall see.

http://mysticscholar.org/2011/02/11/israel-palestinian-peace-treaty-so-close/

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.
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