Building Palestine From the Bottom Up
JERUSALEM – As President Barack Obama’s special Middle East envoy, former US Senator George Mitchell, learned during his visit to the region, America’s efforts at Israeli-Palestinian peace-making are running up against three major obstacles. They will, no doubt, also arise in Obama’s upcoming meetings with the region’s leaders.
The first obstacle – indeed, the issue that stands front and center today – is the ongoing Palestinian civil war, with Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip in defiance of Abu Mazen’s Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians’ basic failure at nation-building makes any meaningful peace talks with Israel – let alone an agreement – almost impossible at the moment. With Palestinians unable to agree among themselves on a minimal national consensus, how can peace be established between them and Israel?
Second, with Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, Israel now has a government which is far less likely to be willing – or able – to make major concessions and evacuate hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers from the West Bank.