Magazine article The Nation

Anyone for Peace?

Magazine article The Nation

Anyone for Peace?

Article excerpt

Never in recent memory has a dispute lingered for so long on the threshold of a "breakthrough," The Arab-israeli peace process, which is scheduled to begin a ninth round in Washington on April 20, is at risk of being crushed under the weight of its own bloated expectations. In the eighteen months since the Madrid peace conference, countless inducements--in the form of "letters of assurance," "six-point plans" and eleventh-hour "confidence-building measures"--have issued from Washington, producing little more than an atmosphere. of overheated anticipation. No wonder people are losing patience:. If the two sides can't even sit down together and agree to disagree, what is the use of tinkering with details?

The breakthrough myth ignores a basic reality: Unless Israel reconciles itself to the full return of occupied Arab lands, there can be no comprehensive peace in the region. No amount of haggling over timetables and territory will produce results until that historic moment. Israel's deportation of 400 Palestinians last December and the Clinton Administration's disinclination to do anything about it suggest that the day of decision is still a long way off. The rejectionist Likud bloc may have lost its election battle this past June,but it appears to be winning the war.

Israeli leaders are accustomed to courting favorable opinion on the home front; the deportations and the brutal quarantine of the occupied West ,Bank and Gaza are recent cases in point. But if Israel is serious about peace, not to mention its own long-term security and well-being, it must also begin to heed Arab opinion. …

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