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Israel and Palestine - Elections, Extremism, and Peace

by Navaros Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 08:58:22 AM EST

In the last week once again the world has focused its attention on the events taking place in Israel and Palestine. After the success in the January 25 elections in Palestine, Hamas were expected to present the candidates for their new cabinet. At the same time, following the three-month coma of Ariel Sharon, the parliamentary elections were scheduled for March 28 in Israel. However, even in the time of transition of governments in office, the main concern of both Israel and Palestine as well as the rest of the world lies with the peaceful resolution of the dispute over the control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the other diary on the same topic: Israeli Elections Thread

From the diaries - whataboutbob

In order to quickly assess the Palestinian viewpoint we need to take into consideration the current succession of Hamas to office. On Tuesday, the Palestinian Parliament approved the cabinet proposed by Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh with 71 to 36 votes. This came as no surprise, since Hamas holds the majority of seats in parliament. What generated more commotion (and at the same time hope) in the West were the statements made by the new Prime Minister. He claimed that "the [new Palestinian] Government won't spare any effort to reach just peace..." Haniyeh also appealed to the UN, the US, Russia, and the EU to aid him and the people in the Middle East in the attempts to reach a peaceful solution. In his speech addressed to the members of Parliament, the new Prime Minister of Palestine also mentioned that disarming Hamas and recognizing the existence of Israel are not options that he or his government would consider. Nevertheless, these two conditions have to be met by Hamas before the party can participate in any peace talks, says Sean McCormack, U.S. State Department spokesperson cited by Voice of America News.

Mark Regev, spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, also approached skeptically Haniyeh's aspirations to "just peace."

The sad fact is that when Hamas speaks about a just peace, it is unfortunately talking about a peace without Israel,
Regev said. Israel's worries, however do not end with the election of a Hamas-led government in Palestine. After the lack of improvement in the medical condition of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, new general elections had to be scheduled. These elections, held on March 28 were also considered a referendum on the future of the West Bank since the platforms of the candidates were rather distinct on the touchy West Bank subject.

The leader of the Kadima Party and current acting Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert supports the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank. On the other hand, Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to maintain a strong right-wing bloc in the new Knesset and prevent Israeli withdrawal. Despite the fact that many viewed these elections as a historical event, the turnout was surprisingly low, with early voting being a mere 21.7 percent, and expected turnout being about 66 percent. The explanations for that vary from candidates' failure to appeal to the voters to reports of homemade rockets being launched by Islamic Jihad in settlements on the borders of the Gaza Strip. Taking into consideration the low turnout on the election day and the percent of undecided voters (22%), we can say that Israel is dangerously close to a deadlock situation on the Palestine question. The split of votes between Kadima, Likud, and the smaller parties might lead to a weak government coalition unable to agree on a common position.

Although we see dynamic changes in the political life of both Israel and Palestine, the sad fact remains that the peaceful resolution we are all seemingly striving for is nowhere in sight. Were we to assess the consequences of the current elections on the situation in the region, we would probably find out they will have no effect whatsoever. The positions of extremism have not deteriorated in any way. In fact, they seem to be improving on the Israeli side as small extreme parties receive larger number of votes. The efforts of the international community to promote faster and more productive peace talks need to be increased, since delaying the problem will only worsen the state of affairs in the Middle East.


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by Navaros (pshipkov@@gmail.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 06:15:52 PM EST
Ehud Olmert after Kadima won the elections :

[To the Palestinians...] We are prepared to compromise, give up parts of our beloved land of Israel, painfully remove Jews who live there, to allow you the conditions to achieve your hopes and to live in a state in peace and quiet.

...and they lived happily ever after.

I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde

by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 05:04:37 AM EST
Now that is a sea change, and with Labour in a comfortable second place and Likud in an uncomfortable 4th, something might actually happen.

It all depends on how Hamas reacts to the election, and to Olmert's words...

Now I'm waiting for Kcurie to diary on the Israeli political spectrum re: the national question.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 05:07:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there are already two diaries about israel. Maybe it is not appropriate to write how the situation is pereived here.

But beieve it: discussion on the workplace are really heated...among israelis

Participation and the new party coming out in third place are the focus of most of the attention.

The national question is more on the table than ever...this and social security!!!!

Amzing how a lull in fire can change the topic dynamics and the public discourse. A couple of years of Hamas ceasefire has changed completely the israeli mentality...

With more time I will indeed make a diary about the present and the future.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 06:42:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One comment. Actually I think that peace has never been closer. If not peace a relatively quiet period with an accepted status quo.. but I will need a diray for this.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 06:44:01 AM EST
If Hamas refuses to disarm and to acknowledge Israel I don't think peace is that close... At least not a lasting peace.
by Navaros (pshipkov@@gmail.com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 07:11:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hamas will keep on with the ceasefire...for a long time. No recognition of Israel but no murders either. This is all what israel needs to get out of half of Palestine with full support of the electorate...a move everybody wants. So all in all, four years of calm and a new status quo...
not a lasting peace but more than Israelis and Palestinians normally have.

And who knows, maybe they reach an agreement for the Jordan Valley and Olmert decides to get rid of 80 % of Palestine in exchange for the settlements close to the green line...who knows.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 07:27:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid that the hatred runs too deep on both sides and that the religious, cultural and ideological dividing issues no longer can be resolved without sacrifice neither party will accept.

But I'm with you on your future predictions. The attempt for future stability sounds like the closest equivalent for peace for all the people of Israel. Sadly, that's the best there is.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 07:58:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Israeli middle class hates the palestinians  for attacking them and the palestinians hate the israeli for not doing anything agains the settlers and the military occupation.

the most one can get here is to stablish a status quo that eveybody agrees under the table but  that nobody can declare because if they would recognize this deal, they would get the electorate against it. So the best thing is do as if the other would not exist and say that the steps are carried for personal security. Formally there is no concessions but the final stage as you say is much more manageable and stable.

And indeed Palestine with the main cities of Palestine and the Jordan valley encompassing 80 % of Palestine without settlers is a much more stable situation that everybody wants.

Jerusalem, recognition, refugees and land interchange for big settlements is something that can wait...another decade.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 12:05:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These under-the-table deals, however are very disturbing to most of the people living in remote small towns near the West Bank.
I'm more than concerned. We're in danger. Our very existence is threatened.

These are the words of Sheri Lerner, a resident of Beit El, one of these small settlements I mentioned. Isn't it disturbing that a solution like the exchange of settlements and territories will probably provide for an increase in the acts of violence and even make genocide a viable option?

Lerner continues emotionally in his interview for The Times saying

If Olmert uses the army and police to break heads, break bodies to get us out he will win. But I'll fight.

This is a clear message, showing that partial solutions will only switch external conflicts with internal ones. Even worse, such actions might only add internal conflicts without getting rid of the external ones in the first place.
by Navaros (pshipkov@@gmail.com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 05:49:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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