Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peace in the Middle East?


Thomas Riggins

If the polls are right Benjamin Netanyahu is set to become the next PM of Israel after the elections on 2-10-09. President Obama has expressed interest in working towards a comprehensive peace in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors and between Israel and the Palestinians. Almost every serious observer of the region thinks that peace is possible. There appears to be only one major factor to overcome and that is to persuade Israel to actually want peace.

Israel can have peace with a guaranteed security arrangement by doing three things. Giving up the land it has illegally occupied since 1967 and returning to the 1967 borders which will be internationally guaranteed. Allowing a Palestinian state to come into existence on the West Bank and the Gaza strip with its capital being East Jerusalem, and returning the Golan Heights to Syria-- as mandated by international law.

If Likud wins the upcoming elections and Netanyahu becomes PM it is unlikely that any of the things necessary for real peace in the region will be undertaken by Israel. Netanyahu gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal (1-24-09) in which he forthrightly stated: “We’re not going to re-divide Jerusalem, or get off the Golan Heights, or go back to the 1967 boundaries.” So what is there to talk about? It will be interesting to see how President Obama can get the peace process started again, and concluded, with this Israeli attitude.

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