October 13, 2003

Middle East Round-Up Lots of

Middle East Round-Up

Lots of links worth reading re: the current Mideast situation. Check out Rob Malley's op-ed in today's WaPo. His dire assessment about the moribund state of American peacemaking efforts is pretty much on the mark. Nor will these types of de minimis fact finding expeditions tip the balance into a reassertion of a strong U.S. "honest broker" role.

So, much like with the Oslo process, some Israelis are picking up the slack (through Swiss rather than Norwegian intermediaries). Yossi Beilin has been working on a peace plan. Former Labor PM Ehud Barak thinks it's "delusional."

Sharon, no surprise, doesn't like it either--and denies that he was being briefed on the plan as the negotiations were underway--as Yossi Beilin contends.

Note that all this peace negotiating, while unlikely to prove frutiful given the overall bleak atmospherics throughout the Holy Land, showcases that the Israeli left is emerging from the somewhat comatose state its been in since the start of the last intifada three years hence. There are now some stirrings of life.

Partly, this is a result of the limitations of Sharon's strategy. His military actions in the Occupied Territories have failed to deliver security to the Israeli public. A military solution remains a chimera--thus the necessity to continue to strive for a political settlement.

For instance, what's really accomplished by this Rafah raid? That's a lot of newly homeless people to close three tunnels (and doubtless there are others the IDF hasn't found--so arms will still filter in from the Egyptian border).

Is this smart strategy? Given the human costs--I doubt it. Reports indicate dozens of individuals were injured when a helicopter gunship shot into a crowd. A couple young children were killed. Doubtless many gunmen were felled as well. But, and it's worth noting as innocent Palestinian lives are worth every bit as much as Israeli ones, that shooting missiles into crowds doesn't just get the bad guys. Put simply, I think Sharon sometimes is too comfortable accepting so called collateral damage resulting from missile attacks in crowded population centers like refugee camps.

On the Syria front, the Jpost has a series of Syria-related articles worth looking at--particularly the article detailing the IDF's massive military advantage in any prospective confrontation.

Finally, the JPost also has an alarming story that terror groups may be planning attacks against British Jews.

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