Friday, July 08, 2005

The Slow Steps to Middle East Peace

One of the 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza planned for evacuation, Neve Dekalim sits across from the Palestinian refugee camp Khan Yunus. Al-Jazeera interviewed Abo Ahmed and his sister-in-law Zkiya Musa, two of the anxious Palestinians cautiously awaiting the Israeli withdrawal:
"The settlements are one of the biggest obstacles for us, and we feel it more than anyone here on the front lines. We suffer on a daily basis," he said.

"All I remember from the past few years is that there were always martyrs, always injuries and always tanks down the street," he recalled.

Zakiya Musa held a nursing three-month-old in her arms. "I just can't wait for them to leave, so we can relax, for our children's sake. They are mortified of the sniper fire they hear every night," she said.
The exact role for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in these evacuations is not known, as the Israeli government has refused to coordinate with them. But a special 5,000 member security force began training earlier this week. Also, the issue of land distribution has yet to be resolved. A special court will deal with private land claims, but the remaining 95% cannot be bought or sold for six months after the engagement.

On the Israeli side, more than 40,000 soldiers and some 4,000 police will be deployed to the Gaza Strip for the August 15th evacuations. This 44,000-strong force dramatically outnumbers the 9,000 Jewish settlers they are to evacuate. Despite the violent Jewish protests that led to over 1,000 arrests and 3 soldiers who refused orders (one of whom was sentenced to 56 days in jail), there is no indication that Ariel Sharon is backing down now:
We must all remember that the calls for refusal and the attempt to disrupt life in Israel threaten the existence of the nation as a Jewish and a democratic state.
After over 30 years of occupation, Israel seems to be taking the more difficult road to peace. If the Palestinians hold up their end of the negotiations, then perhaps this will finally bury one of the most rancorous Middle Eastern feuds in my lifetime.

But it is too soon to say. There will be much resistance on both sides as all of us have seen before, but with committed leaders such as the transformed Sharon and his counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Palestine, there is at least some tangible hope.

The rocky road to peace is more difficult to plow than the heated escalation to war. Perhaps, other world leaders could take cue from this situation.


Post a Comment

<< Home