Monday, August 06, 2007

Optimism or Pessimism ?

Despite the many articles in the press about various proposed and actual peace talks between Israel and the PA, and despite Judaism's ultimate commandment - "don't lose hope for the future" - I am finding it hard to believe anything positive will come out of the latest round of diplomatic activity.

On the one hand, Israel's actions do not match her talk. Olmert declares he wished to see a Palestinian State, yet Israel continues to expand existing settlements, confiscate new areas of Palestinian land, and does nothing to remove the dozens of "illegal" settlement started by ultra-nationalistic settler groups. The West Bank continues to be the wild west. Jewish entrepreneurs and religious ideologues run wild and the government pretends not to see. "It is a jungle out there" according to this article by Akiva Eldar.

On the other hand, Abbas and company are probably too weak to deliver the goods, even if Israel makes them an offer they could accept. (Unlikely given the above.) Hamas controls Gaza, and probably has enough influence in the West Bank to scuttle any deal, either in advance, or by re-staring terror attacks right after a deal is announced. And no one, it seems, is even thinking about how to get Hamas back in to the negotiation loop. But as Danny Rubinstein points out in an article in Haaretz , it may be that"if Hamas is not in the game, there is no game."

So is there any reason to be optimistic? Well maybe I am not so smart and therefore my analysis above is flawed. And history shows that sometimes the unexpected does happen. So with those slim pickings, one can continue to hope.

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