by Aramie Louisville Vas
It seems everyone’s unwilling to negotiate in the Israel – Palestine conflict. Israel won’t, Palestine won’t, and international allies, like the U.S. won’t do much to force them. So these little engines (that could if they would) are not as much stalled on their tracks as rushing aggressively into one another repeatedly, brandishing knives and shooting children, and both engines have little incentive to stop their destructive actions.
In the past three weeks, nine Israelis and 50 Palestinians have been killed by the violence. A number of the dead Palestinians were teenagers. These are small numbers in comparison to the casualties of the First and Second Intifadas [1987-1993 and 2000-2005], but since then the deaths have steadily mounted.
International efforts to put a lid on the violence and maintain the status quo – Israel’s status quo, let’s be frank – had the U.N., U.S., Russia and the EU meeting in Vienna Friday but making zero progress towards the launching of a two-party state. The last U.S.-backed peace attempt fell to smithereens in 2014 after spending the better part of a year in totally useless dialogue. Does the U.S. or the U.N. want this conflict to end? We should keep asking that question.
But let’s take the focus off them for a moment. A big problem here is that Palestine and Israel need to sit down with each other and come to an agreement. An even bigger problem is that it’s possible neither side is willing to concede what they need to in order for the fighting to end. Does either side want this conflict to end?
On the Palestinian side, two-thirds of President Abbas’ people want him to resign. They are propelled by anger, convinced their leader failed in his promise to deliver a free Palestinian state by peaceful means. In their eyes, violent means are now the only answer. It’s the response of a people who have nothing to lose.
One of the peace requirements for the Palestinians would be for Israel to stop building those damned settlements on the West Bank. Even if Israel agreed, it seems to be the opinion of most that Israel can’t stop building settlements without collapsing their government. I suppose popular hell would break loose. Would the issue be that Israelis have nowhere to live as their nation expands?
There is also speculation, reasonable speculation, that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu would rather put things off than deal with Obama. The two just don’t jive well. If this is what Netanyahu has in mind, guess how much change we’ll see in the current state of things until the next U.S. election?
Does anybody want this conflict to end?