On Peace and Cognitive Dissonance

Reading an article in today’s NY Times about the prospects for the progression of peace talks with Israelis and Palestinians, I’m struck by two things. One unmentioned, the other came at the end of the article.

In the third paragraph, it mentions Israel withdrawing from the West Bank as a major step towards peace:

But the current calm is fragile, and to maintain it Israeli security officials say they must continue their nightly arrests and sometimes deadly raids in the heart of the West Bank — tactics at odds with a peace effort that envisions a separate Palestinian state, an eventual Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank and, in the meantime, a gradual transfer of authority to the Palestinian police.

What’s not mentioned is just how entrenched Israeli occupation of the West Bank is becoming. Right now, the wall that Israel has built between their own settlements and those of Palestinians has been touted as the factor that has all but stopped Palestinian suicide bombers. But let’s have a look at this map of the West Bank, showing the traditional boundaries of Palestine and where the wall is being built:

Israeli Occupation Wall

As you can see, the wall not only takes land away from the Palestinians and effectively splits their remaining territory into separate halves, but it also creates enclaves of Israeli settlements within the West Bank.

In other words, it’s really tough to achieve statehood when a group of people doesn’t have much of a state.

In another tenet for peace, the Palestinians are also supposed to provide security and stop terrorists on their (remaining) land. But there’s a problem with this, as well:

Those wanting to advance the peace process, including the American backers, hope that Israel will gradually wind in its security net in the West Bank while the Palestinians spread theirs out.

Nobody knows how long that will take. The battalion now training in Jordan is meant to be the first of five. But for now there are no more dollars allocated for the program, and the money has run out.

How Palestine can provide its own security forces without aid is beyond anyone’s guess — it’s just not possible.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit sick of the doublespeak on peace. People on the Israeli and American right sides can scream terrorism charges against Palestinians all the want, but if you keep screwing these people over, then that’s one origin of their discontent. Until all sides are willing to admit that — and perform conciliatory actions afterwards — then we’re not going to see successful peace talks in the Holy Land.

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