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Sunday May 2, 2010 5:37 PM (EST+7)
Siegman: Is the Israel-Palestine conflict 'ripe' for Obama’s intervention?

Read more: peace process, settlements, Palestinian state

RAMALLAH, May 2 (JMCC) - Renowned columnist and former National Director the American Jewish Congress Henry Siegman contemplates whether the conditions are 'ripe' for an imposed solution from the Obama administration.

In an op-ed essay in the Wall Street Journal (04/26/2010), Richard Haass, the President of Council on Foreign Relations, argues that advocates of a more forceful U.S. intervention in the Middle East peace process have exaggerated that conflict's impact on America's interests elsewhere in the region.

I don't know anyone among those who have cited the damage the Israel-Palestine conflict is causing U.S. interests in the region who believes this concern to be anything other than a secondary reason for a more muscular U.S. initiative to bring this conflict to a close. For everyone, the main reason is the human cost to millions of Palestinians who have lived under the boot of a military occupation for over 40 years, and to Israel's citizens who, while living increasingly undisturbed and prosperous lives, nevertheless exist in the shadow of the threat of recurring wars and Qassam rockets.

The second compelling reason for a quick end to the conflict for all those who advocate it is the unrestrained expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, whose undeclared but widely understood goal it is to make impossible the emergence of a Palestinian state. This outcome would leave Israel with the choice of granting Palestinians Israeli citizenship, thus giving up its Jewish identity, or ending its democratic character as it enforces a regime that denies millions of Palestinians their individual and national rights-in effect turning Israel into an apartheid state.

Oddly enough, these concerns find no place in Richard Haass's essay as he warns against exaggerating the bearing of a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict on U.S. interests.

Forty plus years into this conflict and into the creeping Israeli annexation of territory in the 22 percent of Palestine left the Palestinians, Haass pleads for patience for the situation to ripen before we try to end it by putting forward an American plan. He maintains that what is missing is not ideas, but the will and ability of the parties to compromise. Haass notes that Palestinian leadership remains weak and divided; the Israeli government is too ideological and fractured; U.S. relations are too strained for Israel to place much faith in American promises.

One would have thought the problem has been placing faith in Israeli promises. But more to the point, it is precisely the ability to compromise that will be the victim of further delay-for it will discredit the moderate leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad who will surely not be replaced by greater moderates. Their replacement will be Hamas-if we are lucky-or the more extreme groups in Gaza that are now challenging Hamas for what these groups consider to be Hamas's excessive moderation...

Read the full article at Foreign Policy...






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