Middle East Peace: A Prediction
So this administration has decided it will be the latest to try and forge a Middle East peace. And by Middle East, I mean Israeli-Palestinian. September 2nd, the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian authority are coming to the US to negotiate. Let me say from the outset that talking is better than not talking. Let me also say that Benjamin Netanyahu is the right leader to make peace, if he decides to. Only the hawks can truly make a lasting peace. Only Ariel Sharon could have pulled Israel out of Gaza.
That all being said, I’m going to make a few predictions:
- Sometime between now and September 9th there will be either a set of rocket attacks or a suicide bombing inside Israel. If it’s rockets it will be from Gaza. If it’s a suicide bombing, it will be from the West Bank.
- Israel will feel compelled to respond and will launch a searing set of airstrikes on Gaza.
- The Palestinians will respond – most likely through the voice of Saeb Erekat – by saying that Israel is clearly not interested in peace.
- The Israelis will respond – most likely through the voice of Daniel Ayalon – by saying that they can only have peace when they have security.
The attacks will not be explicitly from Hamas, however Hamas will say that they are legitimate and, in the case of rockets, they will be launched from Hamas controlled territory.
Lastly, and most importantly, neither side will say that this is the course of events that will happen. But they should. Hilary Clinton or Barak Obama should come right out today and say that they fully expect that this will happen. They should say that they expect both sides will fall into their traditional roles and that these talks will likely collapse as that violent circle escalates. Tell both sides that they will follow this pattern exactly. Then tell both sides that this is a moment to change. They can treat this time around differently – but only if they choose to. The PA and the Israelis have an interest in progressing. Hamas does not. Don’t let them guide the news cycle. Don’t let them guide the events on the ground.
This is an exercise in psychology. Give voice to the worst possible scenario, then you won’t be taken by surprise. You’ll say: “oh, I know this cycle, I expect this to happen.” That way, people can only live up to expectations and any improvement beyond that will be seen as a victory for everyone. By stating that this set of meetings is a breakthrough, you are only inviting the traditional roles to be replayed in the most expectable manner.