There was a time when I had hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, believing that peace might actually be a realistic hope for the world. Ehud Barak as the Israeli Prime Minister gave us the impression that he honestly wanted peace. I read Ha'aretz more or less every day and I admired some of their excellent journalists immensely. They seemed to understand that sacrifices would have to be made if there was ever going to be peace in the Middle East.
Then Bill Clinton invited Barak and Yasser Arafat to the Camp David peace summit in July 2000 and we all couldn't breathe for hoping that the outcome would be a big step forward, even if it would possibly leave one or two problems unsolved – for the moment being. Big disappointment. When Barak and Arafat left Camp David, they weren't even close to an agreement.
Then there was the following summit, the same three politicians involved, among other world leaders, at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in October 2000. The naïve ones, such as myself, began hoping again. It has since turned out that Ehud Barak wasn't the least bit willing to give up any settlements in the West Bank and even though Arafat had possibly wanted to sign an agreement, no matter how imperfect, it was not to be. As long as there could be some form of peace, Arafat was said to be willing to give in to worldwide pressure, and he was possibly later murdered just for being too agreeable. Barak, however, left and went back to Israel, determined not to sign an agreement that would be too harmful to the Israelis.
Then there was September 28 the same year and Ariel Sharon shocked the world by walking out on the Temple Mount, thus challenging the Palestinians to respond in fury. The very same day, hope died in me. I saw the incredible slap-in-the-face to the Palestinians. The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site, so holy that most Jews don't even dare set foot on it. It is however connected to the enormous al Aqsa Mosque and so is considered just as holy to Muslims. It is the second oldest mosque in Islam after the Ka'ba in Mecca.
This was such an outrageous insult to the dignity and to the faith of the Palestinians that they could not possibly forgive. Nor were they looking for a reason to forgive. They were already angry and this colossal defiance set the match to the smoldering fire.
In 2001 Ehud Barak gave way to Ariel Sharon as the prime minister of Israel and if there was ever any light of hope left, that was the death knell and all we could see following this shocking chain of events was the Middle East going down in history as the eternally unsolvable conflict. No Israeli Prime Minister will ever move a finger to do away with or even decrease the number of settlements in the West Bank. More and more money is poured into new construction and the situation is deteriorating instead of there being the slightest sign of improvement.
After all the letdowns in the past I am feeling totally disillusioned as to the possibility of an equitable solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the surrounding Arab countries are ignoring the sad plight of Gaza and the West Bank. They are all too dependent on the United States. So far.
Israel could of course never have reached the position it now has in the Middle East if it hadn't been for all the billions the U.S. pours into its coffers, mainly for military spending. The U.S. is so closely linked to Israel that I can't see any way the U.S. is ever going to let go of its "51 state", as long as there is still the slightest chance that the whole area is going to be under the control of the U.S. And that is clearly something all the presidential candidates are still counting on.
To the ones among us who can't imagine the U.S. coming out of this disaster with most of its former power intact, it seems inevitable that the days of grandeur are counted for the U.S. as well as for Israel. Both countries are eagerly hurrying to the edge of the cliff with self-immolating glee. They seem to be begging to sign their own declaration of defeat, and quite soon, unless there can be a drastic turn of events through some unimaginable change of strategy – which doesn't seem likely, given the blindness and the arrogance of the U.S. ruling parties.
In the end, after there is no more money or people to go on fighting these presumptuous wars, Israel as well as the United States will have to accept whatever the world is willing to allot to the losers.
Originally posted at Axis of Logic