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Is a Middle East Peace Possible?

The obstacles are numerous and serious: the violence of the second Palestinian intifada, Israel's unyielding military offensive against Palestinian terrorists, the American demand for new Palestinian leadership, the absence of European support for the U.S. initiative, the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, and the suicide bombers in Israel. And yet, hope persists that a way can be found to produce security for Israel and justice for the Palestinians.

In this Special Report on the most difficult problem in global politics, Professor Christopher C. Joyner of Georgetown University begins by stating that the essence of the Middle East conflict is no longer Israel's rejection by the Arab world. It is the Palestinian struggle for a viable state versus determined opposition in Israel to deny this ambition. U.S. diplomacy must address this reality.

But nothing will come of American efforts, no matter how calculated, says Joyner, unless both the Israelis and the Palestinians agree to stop fighting. The supreme challenge of the Bush administration is to persuade both sides that "peace and justice, not violence, serve their mutual, long-term interests."

The Special Report then presents 11 brief essays by policymakers, academics, and other experts suggesting how to move toward peace in the Middle East.

Yehuda Lukacs of George Mason University proposes partitioning Palestine into two states, quoting the 1937 British Palestine Royal Commission that it is "the only workable solution" to the escalating conflict. Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, says that Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate a peace based on compromise--after Palestinian leaders "end terrorism and stop fostering hatred."

U.S. policy, says Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, must aim at a "thoroughgoing acceptance by the Arabs of Israel." For Palestinians, says Professor William B. Quandt of the University of Virginia, "the details matter." The United States, for example, should support the idea of Palestine in most of the West Bank and Gaza, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Only one solution is possible, states Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland--two states, one representing Palestinian nationalism, one representing Jewish nationalism. According to Jon Utley of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, "Everyone knows what needs to be done--Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the creation of a cooling-off period."

No rapprochement, let alone settlement, is likely, according to Yonah Alexander of the International Center for Terrorism Studies, until both Israelis and Palestinians set aside "the real or imaginary threat" they present to each other. Unless Arab neighbors accept Israel, says analyst Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation, "there can be no peace." Giving Arafat a state, he adds, would reward "homicidal terrorism of the worst sort."

The current crises, states Bruce Herschensohn of Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy, can only end with "victory" over the "tyranny of the Palestinian Authority." It is questionable, says author Laurie Mylroie, whether any true peace between Arabs and Israelis can be established without "a major change in Arab political culture."

Edward S. Walker, president of the Middle East Institute, offers a final measured word that to build peace, all concerned parties must work to rebuild hope, reject violence, and restore trust between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

Violence "will continue to shape Arab-Israeli relations," says Meyrav Wurmser of the Center for Middle East Studies, if there is no fundamental change in Arab politics. Israel and the Palestinians, states chief news analyst Martin Sieff of United Press International, are locked in "a state of full-scale and existential war." A compromise is possible only if both Palestinian suicide bombings and retaliatory Israeli strikes can be "absolutely stopped for long periods of time."

----The Editor
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Publication:World and I
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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