As Israelis and Palestinians Talk, the Rise of a Political Islam Alters the Equation

(New York Times) Ethan Bronner - Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday, their first encounter in more than a year, and while little emerged, the meeting said a great deal about the crossroads facing the Palestinians - and the entire Middle East - as political Islam emerges as a potentially transformative force in the region. Dore Gold, a former ambassador and adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he saw in the meeting "a set of interests coalescing." President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority "has lost his Egyptian backing because of the fall of Hosni Mubarak, so is turning to Jordan....King Abdullah would like to see Israeli-Palestinian relations more stabilized, and Israel would like to revive dialogue with the Palestinians and strengthen King Abdullah." The Israelis say they have competing interests that prevent them from yielding territory now to a future Palestinian state. In particular, they say, every time they have withdrawn from land - from southern Lebanon in 2000, from Gaza in 2005 - Islamist forces hostile to Israel have taken power. The Sinai, yielded to Egypt in 1982, is now becoming another area of instability dominated by anti-Israel and Islamist forces. Given the rise of Islamism more widely, another territorial concession without ironclad security guarantees makes no sense, the Netanyahu government says.

2012-01-04 00:00:00

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