I would love to be sanguine about the president’s mission to the Middle East, but I am not. Physicians take an oath to "cause no harm," perhaps politicians should do the same. Someone said to me yesterday that the conversion of the chief executive of the US into an "action officer" for the revival of the "peace process" in the Levant was a worrisome thing. I agree.
In my opinion, the issues that divide the Palestinians and the Israelis are actually deeper and more intractable that any of the other major dividing
"bright lines" throughout the area.
The Bush Administration, seemingly at the urging of Israel’s supposed friends, seems to continue to believe that this truly existential struggle beween these two peoples is a difficulty in communication and that a thoroughgoing discussion under "adult supervision" can clear up the misunderstanding.
In fact, it remains the case that the majority of people in both sides want "peace," but the ways in which they define peace are quite different and reflective of a desire to dominate the other side. All else is tactics designed to herd the American dummies along in the direction of advantaging one’s own side. As I have said many times (sorry), if there was real good will on both sides the issues could be easily resolved and the subsequent treaty written on a couple of sheets of paper, but there is not such good will.
I continue to believe that the problem should be approached by seeking regional bilateral and in some cases multi-lateral agreements that address the interests of all concerned and which reduce the "temperature" in the region.
Whoever it was that sent Quixote off on this venture against the windmills of obduracy was quite wrong. There might be a piece of paper agreed on by the time Bush leaves office but it will mean little. People in this region are good at agreeing to things they have no intention of doing.
What Bush should have sought on this trip was to advance regional negotiation on the one hand and to find a more reasonable way to deal with the problem of Palestinian division on the other. Truce, maybe? pl