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Peace in the Middle East; it has been a dream shared by millions throughout the last several decades, and it may finally be time for it to be achieved. Of course, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about this possibility, but this is the first time that I can remember when there has been a significant step toward realizing this goal. Of course, I know about the Camp David Accords, the Roadmap, and other efforts throughout history, but this is the first major attempt during the time I have actually been seriously aware of things happening in the world. Looking back, the convergence of events on a couple of separate fronts make this seem like a very realistic chance to achieve it.
Today, the Obama Administration is pushing its plan for working toward this goal. According to the Washington Post, the President is said to be “seriously considering” a deal based largely on what has already been agreed to in past negotiations. Apparently, and quite logically, I might add, the impetus behind an American proposal would be that the Israel-Palestine issue has gone on for far too long, and that we need to instead focus on Iran and terrorism issues. In proposing a new plan, President Obama is expected to ideologically part ways with his special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell and instead embrace an approach favored by people including Colin Powell, and the national security advisers for Presidents George H.W. Bush, Ford, and Carter. This plan, which is still only being discussed in the vaguest of terms, would attempt to resolve the questions surrounding the status of Jerusalem, the right of refugees to return to their homeland, and a focus on stabilizing Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors. To me, this sounds very plausible, though we will have to wait and see what the actual proposals turn out to be.
On the other hand, the Palestinians don’t seem to want to wait much longer. The New York Times reported this week that Palestinians are changing their strategy of resistance to Israel to one that has been tried and found to be successful in India, South Africa, and the U.S. Yes, the Palestinians have begun to embrace nonviolence in a limited form as a product of exasperation with the lack of results produced by terrorism and diplomacy. With the burning of Israeli goods among other things, the new protests echo more of the Vietnam War protesters than the Civil Rights movement. However, it is certainly a start, and at least the “official” Palestinian leadership appears serious.
So, You Want to Build a Nation?
Apparently, Palestinian leader Salam Fayyad wants to build up the institutions of a government in hopes of being able to formally declare an independent state in 2011, and the plans he has have caught the attention of the descendants of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The public is apparently not yet completely behind the new approach, but violent tactics have fallen out of favor, with only 47% approving of them, according to a poll cited in the article. Of course, this all raises the question of whether the Palestinian Authority will be able to actually do anything given the split with Hamas.
It seems to me that Hamas militarism, not to mention Hezbollah and all the other extremist groups, will undercut any peaceful overtures made by the Fatah government, but with popular support for violence diminished, it might be possible. One of the most promising signs is that civic institutions and the courts are working again after the uprising, or Intifada at the beginning of the last decade, and further, some Palestinian entrepreneurs are supporting a possible ban on the importation of goods made in the settlements. Of course, Israel has to get on board with the idea of Palestinian statehood before it can even have a chance of working, but if it happens at all, it will require a great deal of American political capital. It appears, though, that President Obama may be trying to use some of it on another related and equally worthy goal.
A Step Toward Global Zero?
One of the other major goals aside from achieving peace in the Middle East is a world free of nuclear weapons. Every year I have done Model UN and focused on global security issues, this has been a recurring topic. For as many sessions of Model UN I have been in discussing this topic, and presumably for as long as real-world diplomats have been debating this in the real UN and other international summits, one of the major sticking points was the apparent dual standard between the U.S. and the rest of the world regarding nuclear policy. According to the New York Times, the new policy will take the threat of nuclear retaliation completely off the table.
Of course, as a reaction to the reality of dealing with North Korea and Iran, the new policy leaves an exception to the rule specifically for them. The fact is, this is a substantial recalibration of American nuclear policy, and one of the first- if not the first- major set of changes since the end of the Cold War. President Obama is apparently going to be hosting, of course, a summit on this issue next week sometime according to CNN. Thus, I will leave the majority of discussion and analysis of this new proposal until then. Peace in the Middle East and the elimination of nuclear weapons are two of the hardest problems to solve in the world, but with developments this week, the world seems to be on a path toward finally achieving those goals.
The Is Mideast Peace Finally About to Happen? by The New Age of Politics, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.