To me, the biggest problem people have in discussing this enormously complicated issue is not lack of knowledge of the dense details of the conflict, nor is it built-in bias towards one side or the other (although bias comes a very close second.) It’s that partisans of both sides tend to be frozen in time and, inevitably, that time was one in which their side was more clearly the victims. 1948. 1967. 1973. 2000. Moral shades of grey don’t have to be wrestled with if you get all of your opinions from historical events that you get to cherry pick. Of course, being capable of a little empathy for the other side doesn’t solve anything by itself. The conflict is too deep, the vital interests too in conflict, for an American style oh-can’t-we-all-just-get-along solution.
Still, even though there currently are no formal peace negotiations underway a lot has happened in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the last ten years. I think making sure we’re all up to speed alone would justify spending two hours on the subject.
So, that’s what I’m going to open with. I’ll update the timeline, starting with the failure of the Oslo process around 2000 and ending in the present. I’m still reading, but I’ll at least cover the obvious recent developments:
- The bloody intifada in 2000-01 and Israel’s response.
- Attempts by outsiders to spur peace (Quartet, roadmaps, etc.).
- The rise of Hamas, its split with the Palestinian Authority, and their fragile new alliance.
- Changes in internal Israeli and Palestinian societies and politics (I’m no expert!).
- The good news: The Arab Spring and the effects it might have on dethawing all of this.
Despite my original topic title, I think we’ll need to examine whether both sides – not just the Palestinian side – are true partners for peace, and what might change that.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- Have developments of the last 10 years made peace more or less obtainable?
- What are the outlines of a peace settlement at this time?
- What are the obstacles to it, especially within Israel and the Palestinian territories?
- What role can outsiders play?
- Is there any hope for as future settlement, or are the forces pushing the opposite direction just too great?
- A detailed timeline of the conflict’s recent history. [NOTE: Tues. evening – Link changed to a better source. Fewer dates, more context.] I’d focus on the post-Oslo accords sections.
- Latest on the Hamas/PA split.
- Palestinians’’ recent failed effort to get UN recognition.
- Netanyahu’s government: Tom Friedman at the NYT slams it’s unwillingness to do anything.
- Hamas exercises its own veto over anything it doesn’t like (a year old; the talks it refers
to broke down).
- Is the Palestinian Authority doomed?