A More Even-Handed Approach to Israel and the Palestinians?

The Guardian reports that PEBO is planning to initiate low-level contacts with Hamas shortly after he takes office:

The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush’s ­doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say.

The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush ­presidency’s ostracising of the group. The state department has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, and in 2006 ­Congress passed a law banning US financial aid to the group.

The Guardian has spoken to three ­people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp. There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracising Hamas is counter-productive. …

If true, this is good news. Reality-based foreign policy would be an awesome thing to behold after eight years of dealing with the world from inside The Bubble.

2 Responses to “A More Even-Handed Approach to Israel and the Palestinians?”

  1. Nutan Thakur says:

    So much has been written about the Arab-Israel conflicts. It is almost universally accepted that this small piece of the Land on the meeting point of the two continents of Asia and Africa is the greatest flash-point in the world- the most violent, volatile and dangerous one. While at the basic level, it is a dispute between Israel and Palestinians, on a broader level it can be extended and linked to the so-called “Clash of the Civilizations” as enunciated by Huntington.
    The current ongoing violence is only one more example in this long and uninterrupted series of violence, death and destruction. While it is very difficult for any definite and final stating of facts in any matter related with the Palestine-Israel conflicts because of the distortion of facts, figures and the accompanied truth in the process, what is generally accepted is that this time it was Israel which attacked the Gaza strip which has been given to the Palestinian population as a result of the Oslo agreements. It is also being believed that the Israeli army and Air force have made many brutal and damaging attacks on the Palestinian civilian population in this region in which many innocent people including even hapless women and children have lost their lives or have been severely injured. Israel, on the other hand, blames the Palestinians, particularly the Hamas for propagating incessant violence and openly proclaims that whatever Israel is doing is only in its self-defence.
    As far as the world reaction is concerned, there is a extreme polarization between the two groups. There is no doubt that both Israel and Palestine have their own traditional friends and foes. Then there are others who are seen shifting their positions as per the context and circumstances. USA is the staunchest Israeli ally and the Arab world is generally pro-Palestine. As far as their condemning or protecting either of these two sides is concerned, it generally depends on the siding with two parties.
    If one talks to a Palestinian, one will come to believe that there is no one worse than an Israeli in this world. He will present himself as the epitome of all the virtues and pious intentions and will call Israelis with all sorts of names. To them, the entire burden of the conflict will shift on Israel for having committed all sorts of atrocities on Palestine and its people, including taking away their land and displacing them from their beloved homeland. If, at all, Palestine is resorting to any violence, it is only as a last resort- simply to save itself. An Israeli’s opinion will be exactly the same. For him, a Palestinian will be a cheater, a thief, a mercenary, a hateful creature, a most unscrupulous person, a thug, a rogue and a spiteful chap. Again, he will present himself as a gentle, sublime, decent, ethical, aesthetic, simple and law-abiding person who has been condemned, persecuted, prosecuted and harmed for centuries.
    So, which of these two groups is true- the Israeli or the Palestinians? To me it seems that the truth, like so many such cases, lies somewhere in between. In fact a general overview of the situation would let people understand that the real guilt lies in the extraneous situations and the circumstances and not with these two affected parties. While this does not mean that both these parties are holier-than-thou or have nothing to do with the hateful violence but it can be easily said that much more than their fault, it is the fault of the third parties, the external ones which has today resulted in such an anomalous and difficult situation having crept in where there is one baby with two fathers. The only practical and feasible solution is a two-nation solution, as and when it gets mutually accepted and practically implemented. It might be in the form of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for Palestinians and the rest to Israel or in any other suitable form.
    But why the conflict? The conflict arises from competing Jewish and Arab national aspirations for the same region which one of them calls and believes to be Palestine (a the land they had been living for the last thousand years or so) and the other as Israel (the mythical promised homeland of the world-wide Jews). And the real culprit are the powerful and self-seeking European Nations, Britain being in lead, who left behind so many artificial and non-ending disputes all over the places they ruled and where they created so many irregular, unwarranted and illogical barriers and boundaries that suited them. In this particular case, the British played simultaneously with these two Nationalities making conflicting promises to both in the forms of the Hussein-McMahon correspondence and the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It was only because of this two-mouthed British policy that tensions between Arab and Jewish groups in the region erupted into physical violence resulting in so many riots. And when the British thought that the heat being generated out of this was too much for it to handle, it left the place one fine morning leaving the place to simmer and burn with intermittent volcanic eruptions since then.
    In 1947, the U.N. did approve the partition of the land but the Arabs of that time underestimated Israelis resulting in the ill-fated Arab-Israel war of 1948.
    Without going into any further history, I would end this Article by saying that the Arab-Israel conflict is an extremely sad, ill fated and misfortunate saga of blood and gory. Thousands of innocent people on both the sides have died, giving rise to so many heroes and villains on both sides of border.
    But who is the real enemy- once it was Britain and today, it is both of them who are still behaving like the illegitimate fratricidal children of Britain. And what is the way out? The only way out is peaceful, mutual coexistence, without going into the detailed analysis of who did what and who is responsible for what putrid acts. Because getting down to that is like opening a Pandora’s box where there would be no ending to accusations and counter-accusations. So, peace would reign in this region, as and when it finally does, only when they both realize that they don’t have the capacity to exterminate the other and will go on to exist in each-other’s neighbourhood. So why not say enough is enough and accept the other side, even with complete distaste.

    Dr Nutan Thakur,
    Editor,
    Nutan Satta Pravah,
    Lucknow
    India

  2. gcotharn says:

    Dr. Thakur’s proposition: Since much blood has been shed on both sides, “why not say enough is enough and accept the other side, even with complete distaste.”

    Dr. Thakur goes to great pains to be fair to both sides, yet his proposition highlights the true problem: Israel obviously accepts the Palestinians and the two state solution; Hamas and Fatah do not obviously accept Israel’s existence. I suppose it can be argued that Hamas accepts Israel’s right to exist. However, Hamas does not obviously, blatantly, unequivocally accept Israel’s right to exist. This is a significant problem. Even Arafat, as he mouthed words about Israel’s existence in English, spoke words about Israel’s destruction in Arabic.

    Can Barack help Hamas overcome their rage? Can Barack convince Hamas to obviously and unequivocally say to the world: “we accept Israel’s existence; long live Israel” ? From a Western perspective which values life, peace, prosperity: such an unequivocal statement would be in Hamas own best interest. What is Hamas’ perspective?

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