September 18, 2001
11:11 AM   Subscribe

Is peace now possible in Israel? In the wake of this terrible tragedy, perhaps one good thing may come of it: solid talks between Israel and the Palestinians. After Arafat announced a unilateral cease fire, the Israeli military disbanded all forces from Palestinian zones. If something comes of this, it could set a majestic example for the rest of the world. Is it wishful thinking to believe that peace can, at long last, happen somewhere on this wartorn planet?
posted by ed (15 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- Brandon Blatcher

It seems obvious that neither side in the isreali conflict is going to get away with the shenanigans they were pulling before this.
posted by revbrian at 11:17 AM on September 18, 2001

Heh, I was about to post that link, but I figured that someone else might - that 5 min delay is odd..

This is excellent news, as it says, its only a withdrawl of a few hundred meters, but the symbolism is immense. I was shaking my head on Sunday when the talks between Arafat and the Israeli foreign minister were called off by Sharon under some flimsy pretence - and the fact that 23 Palestinians have died this past week also filled me with foreboding. This now is a ray of hope in the region.

Is it just me, or has Arafat mellowed considerably? He still seems in minor shock since the events of last week..
posted by Mossy at 11:18 AM on September 18, 2001

I remain very skeptical because I am not convinced Arafat is any longer fully in control...The crazies in Israel can be contained, mostly, but the crazies on the Palestinian side are pledge under a variety of leaderships of at least three groups that there can be no accomodation with Israel.
The gesture is great. But that merely brings both sides to sit down and to try to bring about what thus far had not been brought about--the last meetings were fruitless.
My plan: Have the more moderate states among the Arabs (that is, those who are anxious for peace in the region so they can continue to make money) insist that the crazies on their side stop; let the Americans tell the crazies on the Israeli side the must stop. then send in NATO forces as buffer. Why NATO? Because Israel distrust the UN;and the Arabs distrust America.
posted by Postroad at 11:26 AM on September 18, 2001

Interesting contradiction to what was in the papers last week, right after the disaster, when it was reported that Sharon canceled planned negotiations because right-wingers in Israel were working to convince him that the upper hand now belonged to Israel, because the Palestinians had lost a psychological advantage via the presumed extremist Muslim attacks on the US.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:34 AM on September 18, 2001

Israel have been getting away with shenanigans all this past week - come on, 23 Palestinians killed? And of course, retaliation strikes, blah blah blah.. Optimism people - this will work out good - hell, something has to eventually =)

Maybe Sharon decided this would be a good idea in light of the fact that 19 years ago this was the day that he finally ordered the Phalange to stop raping and killing those women and children in Sabra and Shatila?
posted by Mossy at 11:38 AM on September 18, 2001

From a PR standpoint, if arafats securtiy forces don't even shoot back in self-defense it makes the israelis look really bad.

I was impressed by this also...lets hope it sticks.
posted by th3ph17 at 11:44 AM on September 18, 2001

It's possible that the rest of the world might finally realize 1) how devestating the ongoing destruction in Israel and throughout Palestine has been; and 2) how seriously continued instability in the region will affect the rest of the world.

There is still no easy fix to the problem, but increased involvement from the rest of the world will help. One day, money and support might create sufficient stability for the Palestinian nations create genuine economic opportunity for their citizenry; that will be the only realistic long-term preventive measure against terrorist acts. (Not that it's all that realistic right now....)
posted by mattpfeff at 12:09 PM on September 18, 2001

This is big. The US tried going to Israel first last week, that didn't work (they doubtless told the US 'we'll do it if they do it first, but until then, no way'), so they went to Arafat. That seems to have worked.

Of course Arafat is scared as hell, and this seems like a golden road out of his own problems internally. He's lining himself up to say, "OK, I'm doing everything I can, but there are some of my own folks who will never go along with any peace process. I can't deal with this myself or I'm dead. You pony up, US, and get rid of my opposition for me."

Not exactly an ideal position for the US to be in, but if they're serious about a "War on Terrorism" they'd have to do all of that anyhow, and at least now they'll know they have someone in a position of leadership amongst Palestinians on their side.

Looks good from both sides, with Israel left in the cat-bird-seat. There's no way however this ends up that they'll have to concede anything close to what they did in Oslo and following.
posted by mikel at 12:14 PM on September 18, 2001

"Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." -- Samuel Johnson
posted by holgate at 12:52 PM on September 18, 2001

It is a great hope for peace, and it makes me more hopeful than I have been for a long time. I sincerely hope that there can be some sort of treaty worked out.

This disruption of peace has been a tragedy that has gone on for so many years, and it is important that some sort of truce may be found.

I believe that Yassar Arafat has an honest hope for peace, and it is my firm belief that we must be open to acceptance of what he has to say on his people's behalf.
We must remember that he has the more difficult position, since the people he must represent are more diverse than the people represented by Israel's leaders. It is the responsibility for the higher power to reach down and offer the hand of friendship and support to those underneath.
Now is the time for peace to be seriously entreated by the powerful and for them to do more than offer rhetoric.

I pray that there can be found some positive communion amongst these disparate peoples. Give them shelter, and offer your hand in peace and goodwill. It will be repaid many times over.

I sincerely hope that there may be good to come for the suffering people in these areas of long conflict. Put aside the petty squabbles and find somewhere in your heart the better nature that is within.
posted by Mihaly at 1:00 PM on September 18, 2001

What mikel and holgate said. I can't be as hopeful that this is a breakthrough for peace, since it's clearly under immense silent pressure from the United States. It's just like during the Gulf War, when we were quite public in our desire that Israel not respond to Iraqi Scuds. Lord I'd have loved to be a fly on the wall of that phone call. Either one. Well, a lot of phone calls lately, but this one must have been a corker.

It's got to be exactly right that the US has both threatened Israel very seriously (the content of that threat, i.e. the withdrawal of support, is up for debate -- there are so many ways we're their prime defender, from weapons contracts to UN votes), and provided Arafat with an extraordinarily plump and juicy carrot. The speculation that this includes assistance in damping the Hamas movement is astute.

Along the same lines, notably, last week Syrian boy-president Bashar Assad failed to convey personal condolences to the US in a widely-noted snub, but now he's meeting Mubarak (remember that Egypt is the 2nd highest recipient of US foreign aid, as a bribe for continued Camp David peace) and is reported ready to make a joint statement. There is a great deal of horse-trading going on behind the scenes.
posted by dhartung at 3:40 PM on September 18, 2001

*as there should be*

this is a time, as there have been few times before, for politics and diplomacy. the more diplomacy can do, the less our missiles have to do. I'm all for it.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:22 PM on September 18, 2001

I think the gesture was HUGE. Arafat is under a lot of pressure from all sides. I think it took a lot of guts for him to be the first to call a cease fire. And I applaud the man.
posted by redhead at 8:34 PM on September 18, 2001

23 dead this week.

These people are acting like children, but people are dying.
posted by delmoi at 12:26 AM on September 19, 2001

I think Arafat has been given much more credit than he is due. The Palestinians mostly think of him as a crook , giving concessions to Israel in order to stay in power, and agreeing to Israeli demands without seeking the support of the people.
posted by elefunt at 1:41 AM on September 19, 2001

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