Thursday, November 29, 2007


Gene Stolzfus is the former director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, now retired.
Tue 2007-11-27
This week negotiations are to take place in Annapolis, MD to once again set in motion a final settlement for Israel and Palestine. Annapolis, just outside of Washington DC is the home of the United States College that trains professional Naval officers. In keeping with a long tradition of high profile mediation/negotiation events, this one is named for the place it occurs. Sixty years ago this week the newly formed United Nations voted to establish a divided land of Israel and Palestine on what was formerly the Palestinian outpost of the Ottoman and later British Empires.

I am not overwhelmed with hope that this will achieve more than Oslo, Camp David and other grand handshakes and shadowy attempts to end the conflict.Secretary of State Rice has scurried about trying to collect co-participants who can sign on to the conference and its scripted outcome. No one is using the term peace very often because of the constellation of seemingly intractable issues - Jerusalem, a 700 metre wall (twice as high as the Berlin wall) built largely in what Palestinians believe to be their territory, more than five hundred Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, millions of Palestinian refugees resulting from the UN decision 60 years ago, Israeli settlements distributed strategically to aid its continuing military presence, conflicting understandings about water rights. These are generally the same issues that were in play at the end of the unsuccessful Clinton Administration's efforts seven years ago. The Palestinians were blamed for that failure. In the real world neither Israel nor Palestine can compromise significantly over any of these without risking a political firestorm from their own constituents.

On my first trip to Hebron 17 years ago I walked among Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the region where King David, my childhood hero, launched his insurgency against King Saul. The energy of hatred was in the air. My guide Zoughbi Zoughbi, then of the Middle East Council of Churches, wanted us to talk to the people. We couldn't find anyone in the newly formed Jewish settlement in the heart of Hebron to talk to us. As I left Hebron, from the window of the van I admired grape vineyards dating back centuries, many now destroyed by West Bank occupiers. I remembered David, the state he built and I reflected on the temptations and contradictions of centralized authority.

I wasn't introduced to the lessons and troubles of statehood in the Sunday School class where I learned to revere David.Unlike the strong man David, the three key political leaders at Annapolis are weak, probably nearing the end of their reigns. Bush, the partial mediator (as a opposed to an impartial and neutral mediator) has just over a year left in his Presidential term. The Israeli government of Ehud Olmert is holding on in the wake of the disappointing outcome of its most recent war in Lebanon. The democratically elected, Saudi supported Hamas in Gaza is cut off from the Fatah ruled West Bank and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas who leads Palestine to the negotiations.

In Israel, people hold tightly to the vision for and gains of a secure homeland as the answer to persecution and holocaust. The split in Palestinian politics is welcomed by Israel. With limited trust in the non impartial mediator, and a Middle East now skewed by disaster in Iraq, people in the region and the international community do not expect a great break through. Both principal players, Israel and Palestine, rely on the energy of victim hood that runs deep.

Sometimes people just get exhausted from war. Soldiers tire of insulting and victimizing innocent people. People get tired of being insulted. Anger gets frozen into a permanent state of hatred. People even get tired of hating. Tactics that once brought temporary relief or the thrill of victory no longer work. Strategists run out of new strategies. Whole populations or significant parts thereof turn silent, depressed. Social sickness takes a toll on generations who have burrowed themselves into narrow rigid strategies.

The West including Christians once turned its back on the reality of persecution of Jews in Europe and now is often blind to the suffering its ways have brought to Arab and Muslim lands. The interplay of western guilt and regional victim hood alone cannot provide the basic energy to sustain life or war.Wars sometimes end because people get tired of fighting. Exhaustion from generations of roadblocks creates anger that is turned on their families, communities, principalities or national leaders.

Big powers grow tired of paying for the war or using their inherent limits of political capital to make things come out in their interest. Negotiations for autonomy, two state or one state solutions come and go, but the conditions that challenge the balance of justice persist. But tired, weakened actors sometimes do things that strong confident or revolutionary personalities would not imagine possible. Let us remember that Sadat's breakthrough visit to Jerusalem thirty years ago or Ghandhi's triumphs over Empire were based on the collective strength of tired and weakened populations.

"Peace is the collective responsibility of all of us" said my long time Palestinian friend Zoughbi Zoughbi, activist, mediator, and now Bethlehem based politician who recently spoke in Winnipeg, Canada. I know that there are people world wide who are praying for a noble surprise. But in case there is no surprise, let us watch this moment for the inward awakenings that may be coaxed to consciousness within each of us who are skeptics, and doubt the word, the conditions, and the intentions of those who are persuaded to come to Annapolis.

Collective responsibility means that we are all players.As players we have earned the right to understand that wholeness in life need not be curtailed nor subverted permanently by the language of guilt, holocaust and the legacy of two thousand years of separation from Jewish cousins. As players who are susceptible to popularized notions of terrorism we can acknowledge that minority fundamentalist militant Islam received crucial support from the US in the 1980s for its start among the Taliban when it became a frontline member of the crusade to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. And, we can honestly acknowledge that the Israeli Labour government`s support for Hamas in order to weaken Arafat's PLO in the same time period, gave a crucial boost to radical Islam, expressed in Hamas.

Collective responsibility means that those of us in the private world seize every opportunity to honestly observe and demythologize the political and religious superstitions like "Muslims are terrorists" or "Jews will never be satisfied or feel secure". These ideas run rampant in the larger culture and even may be reflected this holiday season of peace when families gather for food and conversation unless we challenge them.

This is a call to action, but a call must recognize our own tiredness with the thought that fairness continues to be swallowed up in the geography of apartheid. As we learn to function out of the better angels within us and allow our anger to be dissolved into thoughtful strategies that overcome the stalemate, we may find a way together. Some of us will use words. Some of us will use the artistry of the streets. Some of us will listen with the strength of imagination. Some of us will organize across the boundaries so evident among the representatives in Annapolis.

We will not be misled by unrealistic expectations of Annapolis. But we will be open to the surprises that the Spirit who also is resident in our world wants to show us. We will be ready to join with the Spirit.
- Gene Stolzfus

Monday, November 19, 2007

How to Get Out?

by Uri Avnery

THE ANNAPOLIS conference is a joke. Though not in the least funny.

Like quite a lot of political initiatives, this one too, according to all the indications, started more or less by accident. George Bush was due to make a speech. He was looking for a theme that would give it some substance. Something that would divert attention away from his fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan. Something simple, optimistic, easy to swallow.

Somehow, the idea of a "meeting" of leaders to promote the Israeli-Palestinian "process" came up. An international meeting is always nice - it looks good on television, it provides plenty of photo-opportunities, it radiates optimism. We meet, ergo we exist.

So Bush voiced the idea: a "meeting" for the promotion of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Without any preceding strategic planning, any careful preparations, anything much at all.

That's why Bush did not go into any details: no clear aim, no agenda, no location, no date, no list of invitees. Just an ethereal meeting. This fact by itself testifies to the lack of seriousness of the entire enterprise.

This may shock people who have never seen close up how politics are actually conducted. It is hard to accept the intolerable lightness with which decisions are often made, the irresponsibility of leaders and the arbitrary way important processes are set in motion.

FROM THE MOMENT this idea was launched, it could not be called back. The President has spoken, the initiative starts on its way. As the saying goes: One fool throws a stone into the water, a dozen wise men cannot retrieve it.

Once the "meeting" had been announced, it became an important enterprise. The experts of all parties started to work frantically on the undefined event, each trying to steer it in the direction which would benefit them the most.

Bush and Condoleezza Rice want an impressive event, to prove that the United States is vigorously promoting peace and democracy, and that they can succeed where the great Henry Kissinger failed. Jimmy Carter failed to turn the Israeli-Egyptian peace into an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Bill Clinton failed at Camp David. If Bush succeeds where all his illustrious predecessors have failed, won't that show who is the greatest of them all?

Ehud Olmert urgently needs a resounding political achievement in order to blur the memory of his dismal failure in the Second Lebanon War and to extricate himself from the dozen or so criminal investigations for corruption that are pursuing him. His ambition knows no bounds: he wants to be photographed shaking the hand of the King of Saudi Arabia. A feat no Israeli prime minister before him has achieved.

Mahmoud Abbas wants to show Hamas and the rebellious factions in his own Fatah movement that he can succeed where the great Yasser Arafat failed - to be accepted among the world's leaders as an equal partner.

This could, therefore, become a great, almost historic conference, if …

IF ALL these hopes were something more than pipedreams. None of them has any substance. For one simple reason: no one of the three partners has any capital at his disposal.

Bush is bankrupt. In order to succeed at Annapolis, he would have to exert intense pressure on Israel, to compel it to take the necessary steps: agree to the establishment of a real Palestinian state, give up East Jerusalem, restore the Green Line border (with some small swaps of territory), find an agreed-upon compromise formula for the refugee issue.

But Bush is quite unable to exert the slightest pressure on Israel, even if he wanted to. In the US, the election season has already begun, and the two big parties are bulwarks standing in the way of any pressure on Israel. The Jewish and Evangelistic lobbies, together with the neo-cons, will not allow one critical word about Israel to be uttered unpunished.

Olmert is in an even weaker position. His coalition still survives only because there is no alternative in the present Knesset. It includes elements that in any other country would be called fascist (For historical reasons, Israelis don't like to use this term). He is prevented by his partners from making any compromise, however tiny - even if he wanted to reach an agreement.

This week, the Knesset adopted a bill that requires a two-thirds majority for any change of the borders of Greater Jerusalem. This means that Olmert cannot even give up one of the outlying Palestinian villages that were annexed to Jerusalem in 1967. He is also prevented from even approaching the 'core issues" of the conflict.

Mahmoud Abbas cannot move away from the conditions laid down by Yasser Arafat (the 3rd anniversary of whose death was commemorated this week). If he strays from the straight and narrow, he will fall. He has already lost the Gaza Strip, and can lose the West Bank, too. On the other side, if he threatens violence, he will lose all he has got: the favor of Bush and the cooperation of the Israeli security forces.

The three poker players are going to sit down together, pretending to start the game, while none of them has a cent to put on the table.

THE MAJESTIC mountain seems to be getting smaller and smaller by the minute. It's against the laws of nature: the closer we get to it, the smaller it seems. What looked to many like a veritable Mt. Everest first turned into an ordinary mountain, then into a hill, and now it hardly looks like an anthill. And even that is shrinking, too.

First the participants were to deal with the "core issues". Then it was announced that a weighty declaration of intentions was to be adopted. Then a mere collection of empty phrases was proposed. Now even that is in doubt.

Not one of the three leaders is still dreaming of an achievement. All they hope for now is to minimize the damage - but how to get out of a situation like this?

As usual, our side is the most creative at this task. After all, we are experts in building roadblocks, walls and fences. This week, an obstacle larger then the Great Wall of China appeared.

Ehud Olmert demanded that, before any negotiations, the Palestinians "recognize Israel as a Jewish state". He was followed by his coalition partner, the ultra-right Avigdor Liberman, who proposed staying away from Annapolis altogether if the Palestinians do not fulfill this demand in advance.

Let's examine this condition for a moment:
The Palestinians are not required to recognize the state of Israel. After all, they have already done so in the Oslo agreement - in spite of the fact that Israel has yet to recognize the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own based on the Green Line borders.

No, the government of Israel demands much more: the Palestinians must now recognize Israel as a "Jewish state".

Does the USA demand to be recognized as a "Christian" or "Anglo-Saxon state"? Did Stalin demand that the US recognize the Soviet Union as a "Communist state"? Does Poland demand to be recognized as a "Catholic state", or Pakistan as an "Islamic state"? Is there any precedent at all for a state to demand the recognition of its domestic regime?

The demand is ridiculous per se. But this can easily be shown by analysis ad absurdum.

What is a "Jewish state"? That has never been spelled out. Is it a state with a majority of Jewish citizens? Is it "the state of the Jewish people" - meaning the Jews from Brooklyn, Paris and Moscow? Is it "a state belonging to the Jewish religion" - and if so, does it belong to secular Jews as well? Or perhaps it belongs only to Jews under the Law of Return - i.e. those with a Jewish mother who have not converted to another religion?

These questions have not been decided. Are the Palestinians required to recognize something that is the subject of debate in Israel itself?

According to the official doctrine, Israel is a "Jewish and democratic state". What should the Palestinians do if, according to democratic principles, some day my opinion prevails and Israel becomes an "Israeli state" that belongs to all its citizens - and to them alone? (After all, the US belongs to all its citizens, including Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, not to mention "Native-Americans".)

The sting is, of course, that this formula is quite unacceptable to Palestinians because it would hurt the million and a half Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. The definition "Jewish state" turns them automatically into - at best - second class citizens. If Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues were to accede to this demand, they would be sticking a knife in the backs of their own relatives.

Olmert & Co. know this, of course. They are not posing this demand in order to get it accepted. They pose it in order that it not be accepted. By this ploy they hope to avoid any obligation to start meaningful negotiations.

Moreover, according to the deceased Road Map, which all parties pretend to accept, Israel must dismantle all settlements set up after March, 2000, and freeze all the others. Olmert is quite unable to do that. At the same time, Mahmoud Abbas must destroy the "terror infrastructure". Abbas can't do that either - as long as there is no independent Palestinian state with an elected government.

I imagine Bush tossing and turning in his bed at night, cursing the speechwriter who put this miserable sentence into his mouth. On their way to heaven, his curses must be mingling with those of Olmert and Abbas.

WHEN THE leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine were about to sign the Declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, the document was not ready. Sitting in front of the cameras and history, they had to sign on an empty page. I am afraid that something like that will happen in Annapolis.

And then all of them will head back to their respective homes, heaving a heartfelt sigh of relief.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

International Survey of Boycotts, Divestment Actions, and Sanctions

The Palestine Israel Action Group of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting has developed an extensive Survey of Approaches to Ethical Economic Engagement taken by religious and secular organizations worldwide on behalf of Palestinian human rights. This on-going review covers churches and church councils, Israeli and Palestinian peace organizations, labor unions, NGOs, associations of doctors, lawyers, journalists, colleges and universities, governmental and political organizations, and actions of individuals. Approaches range from gentle persuasion through discussion, education, letter writing, and informational meetings, to active opposition and refusal to cooperate with violence and oppression.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Time for Real Peace Negotiations

Facing Hamas and Hezbollah
from the November 19, 2007 issue of The Nation

One sunny morning in September 1993 I sat on the White House lawn, watching bemused as American political notables lined up for a "grip and grin" photo with Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. For twenty-five years previously--and until just days before that morning's signing of the Oslo Accord--Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization had been judged by the US government to bea "foreign terrorist organization." On Capitol Hill and in most of the mainstream media, the excoriation of Arafat and the PLO had beenlong-lasting and virulent. But now, here were scores of Congressional leaders and media bigwigs lining up to be part of the new pro-Oslozeitgeist.What made the difference was that the Israeli government had shifted its stance. When that shift was made public, virtually the entire US political class turned on a dime. Today two very significant forces in the MiddleEast--Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon--are in nearly the same position the PLO was locked into before the early 1990s. Indeed, this time the United States is more directly participating in hostile actions against the current "untouchables" than it ever was against the pre-Oslo PLO. AfterHamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006, the BushAdministration orchestrated a harsh boycott of the new Hamas-led government,which left Washington's "pro-democracy" stance in the Middle East in tatters. Then in summer 2006, when Israeli airplanes and artillery were trying to wipe Hezbollah--and much of Lebanon's national infrastructure--off the map, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice worked overtime to prevent the Security Council from calling a cease-fire.Our country's diplomacy has been held hostage to Israel's preference to fight rather than engage with these two significant movements. But the United States has its own extremely pressing interests in the Middle East. Key among these are the need to find a way to withdraw from Iraq and radically de-escalate tensions with Iran in order to minimize US losses and lethal disorder in the region. There are many close links between thePersian Gulf and the Arab-Israeli theater. As the Baker-Hamilton report of last year rightly noted, if Washington wants to avoid catastrophe in Iraq, it must be prepared to undertake a vigorous and effective push for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Recently, the Bush Administration has attempted to look as if it is doing something on this issue. Bush and Rice are trying to organize a November summit in Annapolis to be attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Administration is also hoping for high-level representation from theArab states, especially Saudi Arabia. But Washington has deliberately excluded Hamas. Indeed, the current moves are intended to weaken Hamas,which is often portrayed as merely a tool of an irredeemably hostile Iran. Hamas and Hezbollah have both been on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations for many years. After 9/11, that designation became even more constricting as the Administration threw huge new resources into attacking the financing and propaganda/information mechanisms of a range of Islamist groups it had designated as targets in the "war on terror." The launching of this new concept completely blurred the distinction between those groups that, like Al Qaeda, aptly fit the description of "rootless cosmopolitans" and those that, like Hamas and Hezbollah, are deeply rooted within stable national communities to which they provide real services and to which they hold themselves accountable. During the wave of decolonizations that occurred in the three decades after 1945, nearly all the decolonizing governments ended up negotiating the transition with leaders of movements that for years had been excluded from political participation (and usually also ruthlessly repressed and attacked)on the grounds that they were "terrorists." In the more recent past, the successful peace processes in South Africa and Northern Ireland started in earnest only when the ruling governments agreed to talk with opposition groups previously designated as terrorists. In both cases, the only criteria for inclusion were that participants agree to a cease-fire and participate in elections. The movements concerned--the African National Congress (ANC) and its allies in South Africa, and Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland--were notably not required, as a prerequisite for the inclusion of the political wing in negotiations, either to disarm or tochange their founding platforms in any way. South Africa's Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) took part in the talks without being required to change their simple platform of "One [white] settler, one bullet."In Palestine, Hamas participated peacefully, in good faith and with notable success, in the 2006 elections. From early 2005 onward it had, along with the other big Palestinian organization, Fatah, adhered to a unilateral cessation of attacks against Israel--which was not, alas, reciprocated by Israel. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has participated peacefully and skillfully in every national election since 1992, most recently winning fourteen seats out of 128 in summer 2005. (The party's support in the country is greater than those numbers suggest. The numbers of seats available to the Lebanese Shiites who form its main base is artificially small.) Hezbollah members have been ministers in Lebanese governments. Regarding its readiness and ability to observe a cease-fire, more than fifteen years have passed since Hezbollah used its weapons against any other authentically Lebanese movement. In addition, from 1996 to July 2006 it maintained its side of cease-fires negotiated indirectly with Israel. Hezbollah contravened the cease-fire regime by infiltrating Israel and capturing two Israeli soldiers in the summer of 2006 (Israel had also contravened it, numerous times). In response, Israel launched a massive retaliation, attacking not only Hezbollah-related targets but major elements of the country's civilian infrastructure. At the time, as in the similar assault Israel undertook in 1996, Israeli leaders said publicly that their goal was to turn the people and government of Lebanon against Hezbollah. As in 1996, the attempt backfired, and Israel ended up having to negotiate an end to hostilities on terms that fell far short of its original goals.Indeed, Hezbollah possibly emerged from the war stronger than it had been before the hostilities. The organization and its charismatic leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, gained prestige all over the Arab world, including among many Sunni Arabs. The August 2006 cease-fire has remained remarkably durable ever since. At this point, both Hamas and Hezbollah have shown by their actions that (1)they are capable of winning and holding the allegiance of a substantial portion of their national communities, as demonstrated in free and fair elections; and (2) they are willing to enter into cease-fires with Israel and are capable of exerting the internal discipline required to abide by them. If the Middle East were South Africa or Northern Ireland, we would conclude that they have more than met the conditions for inclusion in peace talks. But when Israel is involved, the US political class continues to make the extraordinary and unrealistic demands that before these organizations can be included in any political process they must completely disarm, both physically and ideologically--just like the PLO before them. (No parallel demand is placed on Israel.) Meanwhile, pending these organizations' complete compliance with the demands, nearly all US politicians hew to the position that it is quite all right to join with Israel in inflicting harsh,in many cases lethal, collective punishment on the 1.5 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, and in using covert intervention in Lebanon to whittle away at Hezbollah's power there.What actions have either of these organizations ever taken against the United States and its interests? In the case of Hamas, none. Yes, it is true that US citizens visiting or living in Israel were killed or maimed during the suicide-bombing campaigns Hamas launched against Israel in the 1990s.But those Americans were not targeted because of their US citizenship, any more than Palestinian-Americans harmed by Israel's actions in the West Bankor Gaza were targeted because of their US citizenship. At the rhetorical level, meanwhile, Hamas's leaders--like their confreres, the leaders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood--are at pains to point out that they have no grievance against the American people. They firmly dissociated themselves from the 9/11 attacks--both at the time and since. But the Hamas leaders do ask why so many US politicians of both parties continue to be so one-sided in their support of Israel and so strongly biased against the Palestinians. One Hamas parliamentarian I interviewed in Ramallah last yearargued that Americans should be glad to deal with Hamas, because "we are the moderates in the Islamist movement." Hezbollah's case is a little more complex. The party was created in 1985 through the amalgamation of a number of armed resistance networks that grew up in opposition to the Israeli occupation of their country. (If there hadbeen no 1982 Israeli invasion, there would be no Hezbollah today.) Before 1985 some of the pre-Hezbollah networks included people who, judging that the United States had supported Israel's invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and1982 and Israel's proxy forces within Lebanon--and determined to end what they considered a hostile US military presence in their country--chose to punish the United States. In 1983-84 those networks used car and truck bombs in lethal attacks against the US Embassy (twice), against the barracks housing US Marines serving in a US-led peacekeeping force and against other US targets in Lebanon. When Hezbollah was formed, it focused its armed operations much more tightly on opposing Israeli occupation forces rather than against US or other Western targets there. At the rhetorical level, Hezbollah to this day holds to a clearly recognizable anti-imperialist position that sees the United States as "the heir to the Old Imperialism"and sees Israel as part of what it considers a US imperial plan in the Middle East. But it has not done anything to operationalize that analysis by attacking US targets either inside or outside Lebanon. There have been some allegations that Hezbollah has sent military advisers to train anti-US militias in Iraq, but these reports have never been confirmed (and given that Hezbollah's closest links in Iraq are with organizations affiliated with the government installed by the United States, they have a general implausibility). Like the leaders of Hamas, the leaders of Hezbollah also sharply dissociated themselves from the 9/11 attacks.No aspect of Hamas's or Hezbollah's current policies should prevent Washington from dealing with either organization. Remember that when South Africa's apartheid government agreed to talk with the ANC, the PAC and other armed anti-apartheid groups, these groups were still--up to the time the negotiation-related cease-fire went into effect--actively targeting government installations and, in the case of the PAC, white citizens throughout the country. The same was true in the Northern Ireland talks and in all the negotiations over preceding decades that led to the freeing of scores of Third World countries from the shackles of colonialism. Contrary to what many American commentators seem to believe, sitting down to negotiate with another party does not indicate agreement with it but merely a pragmatic recognition that it is a force that must be engaged in the search for a solution. It should be noted that in Iraq the United States has now started to deal directly with tribal and political groups that were until recently involved in the guerrilla resistance against the US occupation.American negotiators should seek forums within which they can engagere presentatives of Hamas and Hezbollah--along with other relevant parties such as Syria--so that all these players can energetically probe exactly how to resolve the remaining strands of the Arab-Israeli conflict in a way that is fair to everyone and gives all sides a path to a peaceful future. This is not a pipe dream. As long as Washington refuses to do this, the search for peace in the Middle East will be fruitless, because no sustainable peace can be built in defiance of the millions of Palestinians and Lebanese who support these two movements.The strong bias that Washington has shown toward Israel for some four decades has served our country poorly. It continues to weaken US interests in the Middle East and far, far beyond. There are no signs that the Bush Administration's current round of coercive Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy will lead to an agreement more sturdy or sustainable than previous partial and unsuccessful agreements. If the United States is incapable of maintaining a fair-minded position in Israeli-Arab diplomacy, it should give up its dominant role. The United Nations could then take over, instead of acting as a junior partner in a US-led "Quartet" of powers, as at present.But whoever leads the peace-brokering will have to realize there can be no peace in the Middle East without somehow including Hezbollah and Hamas in the process.

This article can be found on the web at