Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shuttle Diplomacy

It requires an energetic and hopeful agenda to hustle back and forth between adversaries as an interlocutor and diplomatic liaison, hoping to achieve something remotely akin to a break-through where each weary and glass-eyed faction may eventually tire enough to agree to some remote, and unworkable arrangement. But even for that potential there must be at least a modicum of goodwill present.

A little bit of honesty and faith in a common future, to permit two resolute adversaries to agree to live in peace alongside common borders.

The proximity talks which had previously been undertaken by the Bush and then the Obama administrations achieved precisely nothing. Two sides resistant to the very idea of accommodating one another. Particularly in view of all the truly bad blood, the spilled blood, the potential for more always lurking in the background. The complete lack of trust evident from each side.

Based on previous attempts that failed, and based on a history of bloodshed.

Israel, of course, is to blame. For occupying areas of the West Bank which the Palestinian Authority has earmarked conclusively as their future territorial state. That this was a geography available to them sixty years ago and which they emphatically rejected in favour of the entire geography is another matter. But is it, given the fact that there are two streams of consciousness at work here?

One that is clearly championing a two-state solution and peace between itself and Israel, and which is fervently, famously espoused to the international community, while pleading for assistance in forcing Israel to withdraw from the West Bank as it did unilaterally from Gaza. Did that Gaza withdrawal assist in achieving peace? As a goodwill gesture what did it achieve?

The other stream of consciousness is the one spoken in Arabic, not English, and addressed to a home audience, sheltered from the international community's scrutiny. And that is the constant advocating of 'resistance' against the 'occupier'.

A resistance that is part of the PA school curriculum, and which plays a huge part in teaching Palestinian children how the past was horribly marred and what the future represents, and who their mortal enemy is and how they are being groomed, as ardent young Palestinian warriors of the future, to combat that enemy.

It manifests itself in commemoration of the martyrs who died in the cause of Palestinian statehood by nobly acting as suicide bombers. It names holidays and streets and buildings after the esteemed martyrs that the enemy considers terrorists for taking the lives of innocent men, women and children.

Those same civilian women and children who are considered also to represent the enemy because they were Israeli, they were Jews.

If it is difficult to persuade Israel that it must take a gigantic leap of faith and dismantle its many and populous settlements in the West Bank, and surrender half of its heritage city of Jerusalem to the demands of the Palestinian Authority, and prepare to grotesquely welcome back Palestinians who fled the country in 1948, effectively diluting the Jewish presence of Israel to a minority, it is equally difficult to persuade the PA to relinquish its hatred of Jews and Israel.

To persuade the Palestinian Authority to surrender its aspiration of assuming the entire territory inclusive of where Israel sits, to once again hold complete autonomic sway over "Palestine". To those solemnly dedicated and determined diplomats dispatched time and again from the United States to the Middle East to achieve the seemingly impossible, good luck and prepare to settle in for another long run.

After which do not be amazed if nothing is achieved. Intransigence is the hallmark of that geography. Bitter grievance is the inheritance of a people who have become quite comfortable in their ongoing status as willing refugees, since the United Nations is itself comfortable in supporting them as helplessly dependent refugees.

Is it little wonder that official Israel expects so little of its Palestinian counterparts? On the basis of previous encounters, ongoing events of violence so readily unleashed in rejection of the deep communion of a desire to establish an aura of peace and reconciliation, why place trust in those who choose not to deserve it?

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