Wednesday, 1 September 2010

You wanna peace of me???

Well, today is the first day of the restarted peace talks between Israel and the PA in Washington. So, in the spirit of peace, what do I see on the headlines at Ha'Aretz and Jerusalem Online? That's right (I paraphrase) "Hamas claims responsibility for the shooting of 4 Israelis in the West Bank". It made me think...

I was transported back to the mid-late 90s when I was studying in Jerusalem and Bibi was PM, having won the previous election on his 'Peace with Security' ticket. I arrived in August 1997 just a few weeks after the double suicide bombing in Mahane Yehuda, and just a few weeks before the triple Ben Yehuda Street bombing. Yes I kow what you're thinking - 'Good peace with security Bibi, thanks'. Well... Bibi is PM again and I know that this attack is not necessarily comparable to the bombings of 1997 in target or scale... but the motivation - to derail the peace process - is doubtlessly the same.

The question is... will Bibi and Israel play into the hands of those who use violence to destroy hopes for peace?

The Guardian Online is running a story today that the setllers will defy the government's freeze on settlement building from 6pm tonight. And so the cycle continues: fanatics on one side provoke a fanatical response from fanatics on the other side...

Will the Israeli government and PA take the necessary steps to control and contain the fanaticism on their own side? Will there be enough (any?) trust between them to allow each to 'look after its own' (fanatics)? Both nations need peace and security - from the fanatics within as much as the fanatics without.

The optimist in me prays that Bibi won't use this as an excuse to fall back on the rhetoric of  'the Palestinians don't want peace' and that any settlers who defy the building freeze will be arrested and dealt with by the judicial process. The realist in me thinks that that's exactly what will happen - or at least that a blind eye will be turned to any breach of the building freeze.

According to Ha'Aretz, the PA has spent a great deal of effort trying to find who perpetrated the attack on Tuesday evening. Of course it is in the best interests of the PA to punish Hamas and keep the latest installment of the peace process going... I just hope that Bibi realises it's in Israel's best interests to stay in the process as well.

Fingers crossed then.

hmmm... who do you think he's imagining in his grasp...?

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