Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

End a No-Result Policy in Israel

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

End a No-Result Policy in Israel

Article excerpt

As Israeli-Palestinian negotiators attempt to restore the peace process, events again demonstrate the disparity in bargaining power between the two sides.

Israel, with its military power, could retake Palestinian towns and destroy the peace process. The past and present governments have not exercised that power, but they have demonstrated the capacity, without negotiations, to take Arab land for settlements and to reduce the Arab presence in Jerusalem.

Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians have the limited leverage of the weak. Neighboring Arab countries, Jordan and Egypt, fearful of internal reactions or of losing external aid, are of little help. In the absence of progress to solutions to current problems, Mr. Arafat cannot avoid responding to a population cut off from employment, restricted in movement, and denied access to holy places. Many older Palestinians and merchants may dread any recurrence of the intifadah, but thousands of unemployed and underemployed youths are willing to vent their frustrations. And waiting on the fringe of Palestinian society are those who believe only terrorist acts will achieve Arab objectives. Yet, when Arafat calls for a Palestinian protest at the reopening of the tunnel in Jerusalem, demonstrations get beyond his control. Arafat is in a Catch-22. Israelis place on him the responsibility to stop violence, while at the same time refusing concessions that might strengthen his political standing. If goaded Palestinian police fire on Israeli troops, Arafat is held responsible. If he claims he's not in full control, he gives Israeli hard-liners a reason to refuse to negotiate. Israel does have security fears - as do the Palestinians. But the recent violence came not as a result of the peace process but because of its delay and what were seen as unnecessary Israeli provocations. If Likud continues to see total security in an ongoing subjugation of the Palestinian population, the prospects for real security may be dim. …

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