2003 May 28 Wednesday
Amir Taheri On Obstacles To Settlement Of Palestinian Question

Iranian writer Amir Taheri on the prospects of a deal betwen Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel may have taken such a decision in 2000 when Yasser Arafat rebuffed it. Under the present circumstances, however, it is not certain that a majority of Israelis are prepared to take the risks needed for fresh attempts at peacemaking.

On the Palestinian side the situation has always been more ambiguous. It is quite possible that a majority of Palestinians living in Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem, given a chance, would seek peace. But they have never been given such a chance by a leadership, much of it imported from the outside, that has always played the peace card only as a tactic.

I have serious doubts about whether it is possible to create a meaningful peace deal between Israel and the Palestians, let alone between Israel and the Arabs as a whole. Suppose that Israel would be willing to give up much of the settlements and withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza except for some populated areas near the old border between the West Bank and Israel. There are too many problems on the Palestinian and Arab side of the equation. The Palestinian population and the Arab countries contain Islamic extremists who intimidate the more moderate members of their societies on a wide range of issues, not just about Israel. The dissenters in the Middle East are a more powerful force more willing to use violent measures in pursuit of their goals than the dissenting side is in the vast bulk of debates about policy questions in Western countries. There are certainly exceptions one can find in the West such as in Northern Ireland and occasionally with small groups of violent extremists in various Western countries (e.g. Timothy McVeigh). But in terms of sustained willingness to engage in violent opposition involving substantial percentages of populaces in multiple countries the West has nothing to compare to the Middle East.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 May 28 05:57 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis


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