Don't Expect Peace Soon

[Guardian-UK] Jonathan Spyer - The results of unilateral disengagement, which was implemented in Gaza in 2005, have included: the transformation of Gaza into an armed camp as the result of massive smuggling of weapons; the victory of Hamas in Palestinian Authority elections in January, at least partially as a result of disengagement being depicted as an Israeli flight in the face of Palestinian military action; and the failure of Israel to achieve deterrence vis-a-vis Hamas-led Gaza, with the resulting launches of Kassam rockets. The war with Hizballah has helped to further damage the idea of unilateralism, at least for the moment, because of the perceived need for Israel to rebuild a strong deterrent stance, and the negative effect that disengagement is seen to have had in this regard. The current idea is to "engage" with the region in order to recruit the good offices of regional players to help prevent further meltdown. From this point of view, it matters little if there is coherence to the notion that dysfunction and strife in Iraq are in any way related to the separate matter of the Israelis and Palestinians. There is, sadly, little cause for optimism, though from Hamas' point of view, things are going rather well. Attempts to found the long-awaited unity government in the PA remain becalmed because of the refusal of Hamas to compromise on Israel's right to exist, commitment to prior agreements, and abandoning terror. Reports indicate that Hamas has found a way around economic sanctions, engaging in smuggling cash into PA areas. This money goes largely towards financing the movement's charity and paramilitary structures. In the meantime, the cease-fire suits Hamas just fine, enabling it to replenish and re-arm. And to return to the fight at a time of its choosing. The bottom line is that no substantive revival of the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians should be expected any time soon. Forces hostile to peace and stability are on the rise among the Palestinians and their regional backers. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Israel.

2006-12-08 01:00:00

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