Former Senator George Mitchell is one of our nation’s proven peace negotiators — he was central in the Northern Ireland efforts. But he is facing a very hard sell in his current attempts to bring peace between Jews and Palestinians in Israel/Palestine and may face more in his moves to win mutual recognition for Israel by its neighbors, Lebanon, Syria, and other Arab states. So far as internal peace is concerned, there is no indication that the Netanyahu government is eager for it or will make necessary concessions such as halting settlement expansion.

The recent UN finding that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza with its apparent attempt to destroy its infrastructure as well as cruel killing of people echo similar treatment of Lebanon not long ago. Its bombings of supposed nuclear construction sites in Syria and holding of some of its bordering territories blocks good will there.

Some have suggested Obama could discontinue the several billion dollars a year to Israel which were initiated in 1979 as an aspect of the treaty that year between Egypt and Israel:

But to do so would only further Israel’s current ‘cornered rat’ perspectives on its neighbors and end any check we might have on Israel’s announced disposition to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities.

Obama is manifestly doing all that can be done to achieve Middle Eastern peace, but the tensions there have been developing since 1948 when Israel was established in Palestine. There are at the very least minimal chances for achieving peace after such extended hostilities. The Israel/Egypt peace treaty was in its way nothing short of a miracle and cost Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat his life at the hands of resentful assassins.

We can criticize Obama where peace in not achieved or where he fails to use the best strategies to work towards it. But Israel is a unique case with its militaristic solutions to problems and well known nuclear bomb capacities. It is reputed to have one of the strongest militaries in the world:

And it has shown its willingness to resort to it on numerous occasions.  The current government there scarcely looks peace oriented — in words but not deeds.  I see no ready solutions.

What do you think?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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