peace in the middle east?
June 4, 2003 9:45 AM   Subscribe

With today's news of peace between Israel and Palestine my opinion of Bush just shot up several notches, but will the compromises stick and finally acheive peace? In the past, Clinton brokered a similar peace deal, Bush I tried it in 1991, Reagan tried, and even Carter did his best. Even with all the previous work, we're still where we are today, which is less than satisfactory for everyone involved. Will today's announcement finally bring peace to the region or is that too much of a pipe dream?
posted by mathowie (42 comments total)
So far we've gotten the Israelis to conditionally accept part of a plan which might allow Palestine a state, if no Palestinians misbehave again. And a Palestinian leader who has less than the full support of his people has agreed to a plan whereby his people stop exploding in the vicinity of Israelis.

The problem is that they all still hate each other. All the Palestinians know somebody killed, injured or made homeless by the Jews. All the Jews know somebody who was killed or injured or simply witnessed a Palestinian attack on Israel.

Anything that goes wrong over there will do a lovely job of destroying the peace process, as has always happened in the past. Maybe the sixth time is the charm, but I can't claim to be too optimistic.
posted by mosch at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2003

I echo mosch's statements. wish i could have faith, but i got jaded a long time ago...
posted by shadow45 at 9:58 AM on June 4, 2003

don't drink the kool aid just yet, mathowie.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2003

posted by dagny at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2003

The Bush roadmap is worthless. It's an absolutely unfeasible, blowhard plan. I'm surprised you got roped into it, Matt. I mean, forget right-of-return, settlement withdrawal, fuck - Jerusalem!, - and just look at the most basic element of the plan:

For peace, the bombers (who do not want peace with Israel) must stop bombing.

What in heck's name will motivate Hamas to help the peace process? A handshake with Ariel bloody Sharon?! And George W. Bush?

No no. Israel needs a new prime minister, and an electorate that votes.
posted by Marquis at 10:06 AM on June 4, 2003

(and the palestinians need a responsible, authoritative , representative government... which they may now have.)
posted by Marquis at 10:07 AM on June 4, 2003

Matt himself posting an I/P thread?

*head explodes*
posted by Space Coyote at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2003

Marquis: (and the palestinians need a responsible, authoritative , representative government... which they may now have.)
If you think anyone besides Arafat actually has any power in the PA I have this bridge you might be interested in.

And, as much as I hate to link to Little Green Footballs, when you have stuff like this on the PA State Information Center along with ongoing indoctrination via PA controlled media, then the outlook is not good.
posted by PenDevil at 10:19 AM on June 4, 2003

Today's announcement is a baby step, so much more needs to happen (basically all of the hard stuff) before there we can even ask the question "will there be peace?"

The cynical side of me says that Bush has already gotten what he wanted (people like Matt now regard him as both a warmaker and a peacemaker, very good stuff for election 2004) but on the other hand it was Bush I who brought the first dose of peace to the region, and while it ultimately failed it wasn't for lack of trying. I trust the Republican approach a little more, because it has more to do with concrete actions rather than appeasing both sides at the same time.

As someone who lived in Israel during the Oslo period, I can say that healing was happening, the peaceful majorities on both sides were attempting to come together, and you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. However poor leadership, greed, and extremists on both sides got the better of the majority. On the one hand it would seem that there needs to be a long cooling-off period between both sides, but on the other hand we're dealing with one incredibly strong country and one incredibly weak collection of people (literally one of the richest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita and one of the poorest, and one of the best-armed vs. one of the lightest-armed), so in many ways the stronger power really has to be decisive, or nothing will happen.
posted by cell divide at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2003

IMO, You know what they need? A greater enemy.
posted by Yossarian at 10:27 AM on June 4, 2003

I'm firmly convinced peace will come to the middle east only when everyone there is dead. And even then the corpses will probably rise up and fight each other because they're pissed that the other person died on "their" land.
posted by piper28 at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2003

Of course, this is all like a bad dream, and God will smite America with tornados and storms for this action.
posted by mikrophon at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2003

Matt himself posting an I/P thread?

I know, but this seemed like an appropriate milestone. If successful, Bush would certainly hold up as something he did right and I frankly don't care who gets it done as long as some sort of peace is attained.

I haven't drunk the kool-aid, it sounded too good to be true and I just wanted to know why. Looks like there are plenty of reasons.
posted by mathowie at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2003

I just got an email from Ramallah: people are happy that the curfew was lifted today. It's nice that they get to like, you know, go outside without getting shot at and stuff.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2003

I really hope these agreements bring some sort of change. The Palestinian people deserve autonomy and a higher quality of life, and the Israeli people should be able to go to a pizzeria without fear of being blown up. Maybe this roadmap will make these things possible. I hope there’s at least a short-term break in the violence because my brother is about to visit Israel for a month.
posted by spork at 10:40 AM on June 4, 2003

Bsuh has the same advantage as the fourth person who tries to open an extremely stuck jar: everyone who's tried before has loosened it a little.
posted by scarabic at 10:42 AM on June 4, 2003

within a week there'll be more bombings i bet...

and the settlers will not give up their homes and land without a fight...

how is this possibly any more than just lipservice to help bush get reelected, and for sharon to keep the aid coming?
posted by amberglow at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2003

The problem is that they all still hate each other. All the Palestinians know somebody killed, injured or made homeless by the Jews. All the Jews know somebody who was killed or injured or simply witnessed a Palestinian attack on Israel.

Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace

I love this internet. There will always be a web site that can disprove sweeping generalizations like the one above.

(Site found by typing "Israeli" "Palestinian" and "friend" in Google.)
posted by fletchmuy at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2003

The Guardian isn't so impressed by Bush's role in the Middle East. To quote:

Signs have emerged in Washington in recent days that Mr Bush has a strategy for the Middle East, albeit an unorthodox one - naivety. Old hands in the diplomatic service, say the President knows almost nothing about the intricacies of the conflict. Nor does he show any sign of wanting to learn. In their view, Mr Bush has stumbled into one of the world's most intractable problems in a superficial way which holds out little hope of success.
posted by salmacis at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2003

If I may play the part of the cynic for the moment.

As for the new found 'respect' for Bush based on this current peace plan.. all I can say is *shrug*, quite frankly what really was needed was to have soem gung-ho iguana to actually tell both sides to STFU and *do* something. Bush as we have seen is a bull in a china shop, so in this one instance that strategy worked, because it was the only one that was going to work. Of course the long term outcoem remains to be seen.

Now we also know about Bush's ties to the christan right. Which as far as i can tell seem to be divided in half that jews and muslims are evil non belivers, and that the jews are historical 'bothers' and the muslims are evil non-belivers. So, again being cynical, who cares if you throw your weight around on the evil non-belivers? *shrug* Being a non-theist I cant rationalize that way.

So what do we get at the end here? We have 2 sides aht had to be leaned on by their 'big brother' to stop being jerks because they were unable to do so on their own. Its about someone did it too.

Remember that Israel is also in violation of UN resoultions *and* they have WMD. Well you go from there. (troll)
posted by MrLint at 11:00 AM on June 4, 2003

salmacis: Those 'old hands' wouldn't happen to be the same ones who have failed at every single other peace initiative?
posted by PenDevil at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2003

Whoa, hang on - this thread seems to be the reverse of 'don't shoot the messenger' ... or perhaps shoot the messenger and the message ... But I'm kind of optimistic about this (or at least less pessimistic than I have been), for a number of reasons, including: Sharon probably wants a deal before he dies; and also Sharon has just been presented with Saddam and Arafat ousted, and perhaps Syria reigned in too.

Re. settlements, of course they're a big obstacle - but if the voters in Israel proper see the settlements as a price for peace, they'll drop them. East Jerusalem is another sticking point (no answer here, unless voters feel the same way about them as the settlements).

Re. the right of return, the Palestinians could accept compensation for land/houses lost. Interestingly, Israel also had for a long time a counter-claim going for the property of Jews abandoned after WW2 when they fled anti-semitism in - guess where - Iraq. I believe the two claims have been linked in the past.

No way am I a Republican (or a Democrat), but I think Bush really wants to do this, even if it's in a simple minded way. But out of the mouths of babes and sucklings ... It certainly doesn't seem to be a policy designed to appeal to his domestic pro-Israel constituency, who would rather see a greater Israel and no Palestinian state.

Finally I think the advantage of the Road Map (rather than obscure negotiations) is that it's easier to see hold the Palestinian/Israeli pols/thugs to account. In fact, monitoring pro-Israel web sites, there's already discussions of how the Road Map is making Sharon/Israel look bad, especially after all their rhetoric as to how it's the Palestinians who don't want peace. Hopefully they'll soon realise that the way not to look stupid is to go for peace.
posted by carter at 11:03 AM on June 4, 2003

I too, am cautiously optimistic, but one of the crucial pieces of the puzzle is to have Arafat truly backing the plan. Locking him in his room does have its drawbacks...
posted by sharksandwich at 11:14 AM on June 4, 2003

Who says Bush did anything other than grab the spotlight?
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:16 AM on June 4, 2003

What makes anyone think these people want actual peace? If they did, they would have found a way to it already. Like any dysfunctional relationship, despite the dysfunction, it works for them on some level.
posted by archimago at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2003

What in heck's name will motivate Hamas to help the peace process?

Nothing. Hamas is part of a large constituency on both sides that actually favors continual war and has an active interest in it. If peace ever comes, some people will be big losers in the process, not because of concessions to the other side, but because they will lose power in their own communities.

Peace can only come when each side makes war on its own extremists. Abbas will have to see a personal interest in taking on Hamas, and Sharon will have to see a personal interest in taking on the settlers and the fanatics who killed Rabin.
posted by fuzz at 11:31 AM on June 4, 2003

archimago: spot on (if you qualify the sweeping 'these people' with the terrorists on one side, and the likudniks on the other. Otherwise it seems a little, er, imprecise, as analogies go).

Personally, I am a believer in the principle that most individuals desire peace, a precursor to prosperity in non-imperialist regimes, which is itself a precursor to falling birth rates (see XQUZYPHYR 's post above)
posted by dash_slot- at 11:40 AM on June 4, 2003

He [Bush] said the United States will provide support for a new Palestinian security force. The president ordered U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to make the Mideast peace process their priority.

So then Afghanistan and Iraq are undercontrol with democratically elected leadership, and all the citizens are well fed without having to live in bombed out hovels?
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 11:42 AM on June 4, 2003

The president ordered U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to make the Mideast peace process their priority.

"Here are my priorities...if you don't like 'em, I have others"

- Bush (after Groucho)?
posted by dash_slot- at 12:19 PM on June 4, 2003

The only cause for some optimism is that the militants have been given the last two years to deliver a free Palestine through violence and they have totally failed. Lump in the embarrassing failure of Saddam's army and maybe, just maybe, the cult of violent "resistance" can finally be discredited.

Of course, this would require vision and courage, not exactly qualities found in great quantity among the leadership of the PA.
posted by ednopantz at 1:15 PM on June 4, 2003

Salmacis - The Guardian also wilfully and intentionally misquotes Wolfowitz in an article (debunked here)

I don't trust the Guardian's opinion all that much. You should see what they did to Salam Pax...

As to this, well, good points all around. Israelis have been polled, and, except for the settlers, seem to want peace. The Palestinians have lost their main foreign donor benefactor type person (Saddam) and so ought to have more impetus to talk peace.

Dirtylittledonkey, the wars over Iraq and Afghanistan are mostly cooled. The groups whose main priority they should be are USAID and their counterparts, not the Secretary of State or the head of the NSC.

Now if only Arafat/Aqsa/Fatah/Tanzim/Hamas/Hizbollah/Islamic Jihad/ and the PA security apparatus would fulfill its first responsibility (cessation of hostilities) then pressure could be brought to bear on the Israelis. Who will be forced to make painful concessions they don't want to make.

From the Road Map:
"Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conduction and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere."

Lets see if that happens. If it does, I'm optimistic. It hasn't before, but the Palestinians had rich patrons then. From the Soviets to Iraq. Now they've got far less.
posted by swerdloff at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2003

Let's hope peace does happen. If Clinton had done this, there would praise up and down the board, but because it's W. it must be bad.
posted by MediaMan at 2:00 PM on June 4, 2003

MediaMan: it's not bad, but Clinton did do this, and it also didn't work. I'm not saying it's bad to try, but I am saying that I have little hope that the effort will meet with success.

Also, the call for peace would seem more genuine if it hadn't been preceded by a globally unpopular war. Right now it just seems like a diversion, so we have something to talk about other than the lack of WMDs.
posted by mosch at 2:36 PM on June 4, 2003

I saw part of an interview with the Israeli Foreign Minister on BBC last night and he questioned the Palestinian "right" of return and called it a claim. He then went on to say that everything in the current proposal was negotiable. I'm not holding my breath.
posted by newlydead at 2:53 PM on June 4, 2003

swerdloff: Wolfowitz's comments have not been debunked at all. What he said was pure and utter rubbish. No matter that Iraq is sitting on a whole shitload of oil, that is irrelevent if sanctions are preventing the regime from profitting from it.

I also can't understand what the beef is with Salam Pax either. It was editing - this is completely normal.
posted by salmacis at 2:58 PM on June 4, 2003

it's going to take a lot more than an 'announcement' to create peace in that region... (and frankly there isn't a damn thing bush could do except leave office that would make him rise a few notches in my book).
posted by cadence at 3:07 PM on June 4, 2003

Uh, salmacis, are you on thread here?
posted by newlydead at 3:47 PM on June 4, 2003

For those of you who doubt it could ever happen, look at Northern Ireland, a dispute that has been running for far longer. If you had told me in the eighties there would be a northern Ireland assembly with Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists sat together I would have thought you were mad.

IMO the Bush administration has had its attitude to everything changed by 9/11. Before that I could never see an American administration exerting any real pressure on Israel, but now homeland security has become the only real item on the agenda even old friends won't stand in the way of achieving saftey. Sharon has never been anything but bullish, then suddenly turns round and talks about occupied territories being on the agenda.

Whatever it is I welcome it. For me a decent settlement of the Palestinian conflict has always been the number one priority for a safer world for everyone.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:03 PM on June 4, 2003

Let's see... the Bible says that the antichrist will bring peace to Israel. The Hebrew Prophet Daniel identifies this person as a leader of a revived Roman Empire. Nostradamus called him Mabus.

So, is that "Mr. Bush" or "M. Abbas"?

Personally, my money is on Sharon. ;->
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:04 PM on June 4, 2003

insomnia_lj --- no, it's somebody with a Master's Degree in Business...
posted by newlydead at 4:16 PM on June 4, 2003

I swear to God I'm the last optimist left on the, wait....
posted by Joeforking at 5:21 PM on June 4, 2003

SDB thinks it's nothing more than a political calculation on the part of sharon, "He is trying to avoid blame, assuming the Palestinians will themselves scuttle the plan by failing to stop terrorism."

the WSJ and businessweek otoh, suggest it's simply the economy, stupid: "Bush's intervention was essential to persuading Israel to take the road map's path to peace. But economic distress may prove an equally compelling factor in making sure Israel stays on it -- the country's recession is directly linked to its occupation of Palestinian territories."
posted by kliuless at 4:07 PM on June 5, 2003

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