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Posted at 10:37 AM ET, 01/29/2010

Reason for optimism on Israel-Palestine?

By David Ignatius

It wouldn’t be Davos if people weren’t speculating about the Arab-Israeli peace process -- but this year the talk seems especially gloomy. Even one of the region’s most indefatigable optimists, Jordan’s King Abdullah, said today that he was “somewhat pessimistic” about the chances for any movement.

“Pessimism pays” is always the right watchword when it comes to this subject. But just to be contrarian, here’s a sampling of some upbeat information that was overheard in the corridors this week.

After the tour of the region this month by George Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy, there’s hope that the preliminaries of negotiations can get started in February. Mitchell has been discussing with Arabs and Israelis “terms of reference” for the talks, and also side letters that would be given to each of the key parties. These documents are said to spell out in more detail the positions the U.S. would take as the talks move forward.

The first step might be “proximity talks,” in which Mitchell shuttles back and forth between delegations, exchanging positions. Palestinian leader Abu Mazen is said to be ready to get on the peace-process train again; so is Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.

This talk is worth less than a Davos snowball, if it doesn’t lead to quick public endorsement of a new round of negotiations. And I’m not making any predictions that it will lead to anything real. But it’s interesting that what you hear in private from officials knowledgeable about the process isn’t quite as pessimistic as what you hear in public.

By David Ignatius  | January 29, 2010; 10:37 AM ET
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Ignatius and other pundits need to understand once and for all that "talks", "peace talks", "talks about talks", "peace process" are totally meaningless -- except for politicians and diplomats who want to create the impression that they are doing something to earn their inflated salaries. The "Middle East Conflict" is, in its essence, an Islamic war on the Jews. No Islamic countries have recognized Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The Hamas Charter contains this quotation from Muhammad, which is sacred to and binding upon all Moslems: -- Allah's Apostle said, "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, 'O 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' " This is proof that we are dealing with a religious, Islamic war on the Jews. Until that is rectified, there can be no peace. Any talk about peace is only hot air designed to deceive the public.

Posted by: Montedoro | January 29, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Not only is terrorism way down, but the standard of living for West Bank Palestinans is way up, as a result of two factors:

1. The existence of a Palestinian regime that, for the first time in history, actually wants to improve the economic life of its subjects, rather than keeping them in misery as fodder for the intefada, and
2. Economic cooperation with Israel, which the Netanyahu government rightly considers a necessary precursor to peace.

So from the standpoint of Davos, things must be pretty gloomy.

Posted by: zenwick | January 29, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The way to peace in the Middle East now, may be talking about talking about peace without the parties actually talking to each other about peace. This allows Abbas to appear like a consistent Jew hating Palestinian Arab, while allowing cooperation with Israel to build up the economic situtation in the West Bank. If the economic situation and living standard in the West Bank improve substantially over time, then this might prompt the West Bank Arabs to give Abbas some space and support for really talking about a viable state to protect and build their accumulating economic assets. In fact, Netanyahu's strategy of building up the Palestinians in the West Bank economically may be the new approach that was actually needed, and it is occuring without anyone agreeing to anything. Economic activity is just allowed to quietly build up a Palestinian society that may eventually lead the Palestinians to need to negotiate for a state.

Posted by: captn_ahab | January 29, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Mideast peace cannot be achieved by negotiations between Israel and the Palistinians. Israel intends to keep some land conquered in 1967 and no Palestinian leader who consents to such a land grab can escape assassination. The only real solution is for the United Nations to do what it did in 1947. Define and create a Palestinian state within the boundaries of the 1967 borders. The U.N. created Israel and it can do the same for the Palestinians. Internal political considerations in both Israel and Palestine make it impossible for a workable compromise to be reached. If the U.N., with the weight of the entire world behind it, makes this move and enforces it with all the power and authority at its command, the principals would have no option but to comply. Israel would have to vacate all settlements and those could be used to offset and satisfy the right of return issue of the Palestinians. Israel cannot be required to return any significant number of refugees and still be a secure Jewish state.
Time if of the essense. When (not if) Iran gets the bomb, the game will radically change and the dangers of a catastrophy will greatly increase. I support without reservation the right of Israel to have peace and security within recognized borders and would urge that U.N. and American power be employed to resolve this impasse while there is still time.

Posted by: edzed | January 29, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Yeah right! Dream on....

Posted by: AMQ1 | January 29, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse


U said: “proximity talks!!!” how can that be after sixty one years of alien jewish occupation of all of Arab historic PAlestine and colonization and mutilation of over 93% of its land,the expullsion by jewish violence and ethnic cleansing of over 70% of the Palestinian People and the racist apartheid jewish occupation of the rest of the PAlestinian People?

the jews,thru their mythical religious claims to Arab historic PAlestine have invited and and continue to insist on a religious war against the downtrroden and dispossessed and occupied Palestinian People and the neighbouring Arab states.

The "peace process" had always been a process without peace-only a jewish deceptive tactic to steal more of the little land left for the explled and other wise occupied PAlestinian People.

Even the President of the US can not stop the jews from stealing more of the Palestinian homeland thou the racist apartheid jewish ethno-militristic-theocracy survives on American goodwell and charity.

This being the situation, there will never be peace not even with the fomridable jewish nuclear arsenal of several hundred war heads.

Let us face it, jews don't only occupy Arab historic Palestine,they also occupy Washington, DC both capital hill and the white hosue:t'is the tail that wages the big dog.

Posted by: asizk | January 29, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

There's very little chance of peace -- or any significant agreement to resolve the conflict -- as long as Hamas controls half of the Palestinian Authority and runs its own separate mini-state in Gaza dedicated to war and the annihilation of the Jewish people.

Since the Palestinian people actually voted this anti-peace party into control of its political institutions, there is obviously little desire for peace amongst their majority, nor is there any real ability for the more moderate elements within their society to lead them into a "two states for two people" accommodation without significant risk of life and limb.

Quiet cooperation between the Fatah/Tanzim leadership in the West Bank and the IDF, leading to a gradual loosening of Israeli security control over Arab majority areas within the territories, as American trained Arab police forces are increasingly deployed, accompanied by steady economic development within the Palestinian populated areas, offers the best hope to create an atmosphere for eventual co-existence.

That this also requires some real Israeli policy understandings across party lines regarding the avoidance of the establishment of new settlements in the territories (excluding Jerusalem) for the forseeable future, goes without saying.

Posted by: shownbjerg | January 29, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how it's possible for a reasonable person to be optimistic about the systematic enslavement of three million human beings and a looming attack on the nuclear reactors of a major oil-producing country but hype beats eternal in the hearts of WaPo editorialists.

Posted by: patrick3 | January 29, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse


Yes real conceret enslavment but not of just three million Palestinains-but rather eleven million Palestinians:

a)1.5 million Pals inside that part of Arab Palestine occupied by jews in 1948 who are treated as third class citiznes(as blacks were in apartheid white south africa);

b)3 million Pals in the occupied west bank and Jerusalem where a brutal jewish military apartheid regime is imposed thru over six hundred military checkpoints;

c)1.5 million Pals refugees in Auschwitz #2-i.e Gaza;

d) over six million Pals refugees who were ethnically cleansed by jews in 1947/8 and where the jews razed to the ground over 500 rpt 500 of their towns and villages to prevent tehir return to their homes in Palestine-this is worse than enslavement.

And the "international community" still looks on helplessely.

Posted by: asizk | January 31, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

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