Aren’t we supposed to be making peace? Wasn’t there a January 2009 deadline for some sort of major breakthrough? Meanwhile, negotiations have been on and off, and when they’re on they’re barely on, and zero progress has been made. Worse, a couple of hours ago at least one terrorists walked into an Israeli Yeshiva and started shooting. As it stands when I’m writing this, eight of the students are dead, nine wounded, three of whom are in critical condition. Over a hundred civilians are dead in Gaza, including a five month old baby. Four are dead in southern Israel, rockets are falling nonstop on civilian areas. And that’s not over months, that was just last week. I got back from Israel yesterday, all the talk is about the “balagan.”
So what’s the problem? In very simple terms, the problem is inertia. When things aren’t going right in the Middle East, they’re going to start going very, very wrong. Only truly dramatic moves can invigorate both sides and start moves towards peace. But an Israeli government that lacks legitimacy (and won’t step down) and a Gazan government that won’t talk to the Israelis, and a West Bank government that doesn’t represent its people are the governments in power, so any hope of stopping the violence is off the table, for now. But these past two weeks have proven that violence isn’t working. The Israeli military is seemingly incapable of stopping the rockets coming out of the Gaza Strip, the Hamas militants are absolutely not going to force the Israelis to leave. But once violence starts, neither side can stop without it being conceived as a surrender, and the Israelis won’t surrender to terrorism and the Palestinians won’t surrender to Israel. But right now the Hamas/terrorist logic is that they are shooting in response to Israel’s attacks, and Israel’s logic is that it is trying to stop the terror. If either side lies down its arms, the other side (or so they claim) would lie down arms as well, at least temporarily. This might sound simple, but the solution clearly is that both sides will need to stop firing at the same time.
The only entity that could coordinate a joint cease-fire is America. Condoleeza Rice has just been to the area to negotiate a resumption of negotiations. The next move, both logical and morally imperative, is for her to come back and negotiate a cease-fire. Annapolis fell apart for lack of movement forward, and now it is America’s duty to stop the backsliding before we turn around and we’re living back in 2003. The sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians, right now, is Hamas. That’s painful to say, but the only people who can renounce violence is the violent. A cease-fire needs to be negotiated with Hamas, and it has to be the United State’s doing. At the same time, Israel should absolutely not end talks with Fatah and the Palestinian government. Pushing ahead for a deal, especially with both sides reeling from violence, might just provide an impetus to actually do something (especially if Hamas holds to a cease-fire and the pressure will be on Fatah to prove its moderation). Normally, right now, I would be on a rant about Israel’s pressing security needs to go in and kill the terrorists, but reading every morning about the “balagan b’Aza (mess in Gaza)” and realizing that Israel’s pounding of the terrorists isn’t fixing the status quo, makes me wonder if there isn’t another solution. Because the status quo sucks.
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