Friday, January 18, 2008

This Gaza Business

The ongoing conflict involving the Gaza Strip shows how difficult peacemaking is in the Middle East right now. Frankly, I see no grounds for condemning Israel for its response to the ongoing rocket attacks on its territory. On the other hand, conditions in Gaza are pretty terrible, and Israel bears as much of the blame for that as anyone else. I doubt the timing was designed to hinder peace talks. If it did involve ulterior motives, they lie in the forthcoming Winograd Report and Yisrael Beiteinu pulling out of the coalition, as well as the need to demonstrate to the Israeli public that the country can respond to attacks like this, which many fear would come from the West Bank, as well, following a peace agreement. On the Palestinian side, I really wish there was more of a movement to blame Hamas for its continuing provocations, but Abbas is vulnerable to charges of being a quisling, and so probably has to keep toeing the line he does in the name of Palestinian unity.

The potential bright side in all this is the possibility it might lead to a ceasefire on the Gaza front and renewed talks between Fatah and Hamas that might give the latter some stake in a successful peace process. As silver linings go, though, that's so thin as to make one think it's probably an illusion.

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