Monday, October 11, 2010

The Link-Up Issue 1: The Mid-East Peace Talks

With this post, I am trying out a new idea. I take an issue in the news that interests me and present a number of links, behind which are interesting perspectives or ideas about the issue that are not commonly seen in American media. Let me know what you think.

Please note that I want to update this blog with some reader-submitted links, anecdotes and perspectives. If you do not want what you say posted under "Reader Contributions," please write this in your comment.

This issue of the Link-Up focuses on the Mid-East peace talks. Please note that I am not taking sides, as I don't think either side is entirely in the right. However, I do realize, now that I am about to post this and go to bed, that I did not adequately represent the views of Israelis or even those of Palestinians living overseas or in the West Bank. If you have a link to contribute, please leave it in the comments section and if I think it provides a fresh perspective, I will add it to this post. Obviously, your opinions are also welcomed. Anyway, some background I find interesting below, but first you might want to glance at this map to see the relative positions of Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank:

We seem to have forgotten that Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party are not entirely legitimate leaders of the Palestinian territories. Hamas won a fair Palestinian election but Israel, because of Hamas's violently radical views and activities, used a number of methods, including withholding Palestinian tax revenues, to force out Hamas and appoint Fatah the majority party. Hamas then forcibly took control of the Gaza Strip but left Abbas and Fatah in control of the West Bank. Without passing judgment on any party because of the extreme complexity of the situation, it seems to me that, in the West Bank, there is an illegitimately elected government with power afforded by Israel and international recognition; In the Gaza Strip, there is a legitimately elected government in the Gaza Strip without international recognition that is struggling to create and maintain internal power despite being denied most international aid.

Here, you can read the opinions of a number of Gazans interviewed by al-Jazeera. Most of the interviewees feel that Mahmoud Abbas is at best not a legitimate representative of the Gaza Strip and at worst not a legitimate representative of the Palestinian territories. I wonder, then, what would happen if a peace deal really was reached. How much would Abbas try to get the Gaza Strip in the deal? Would the deal even apply to Gazans if the Strip remained under the control of Hamas? Would Gazans respect all aspects of the deal given if they feel they had no representation during its making? Additionally, what does it say about our media that this issue has barely been covered if it has been at all, and that very few people seem to talk about it?

This article starts from a similar take on Hamas not being included but has an interesting perspective on Hamas not seen in a lot of Western media. 

Don't forget, though, that Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist and does have a militant wing. Israel and the US do have good reasons for disrespecting the organization and trying to end its reign. At the Middle East Youth Initiative, you can find a couple of possible ways to include Gaza in the talks without involving Hamas. There is also an interesting because it shows the importance of Gaza as an economic hub of any Palestinian state.

Speaking of what concerns would arise if Palestine were to be a nation, if the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are to become one nation, the founders of that nation would have to deal with the issue of Palestine being non-contiguous; the two areas are not connected and anyone moving from one to the other would have to pass through another country, probably Israel. This could lead to a number of problems, like a lack of national unity and radically different economic situations. This proposal, by the RAND Corporation, revolves around a train line that would go through every major city and an international airport to be built. I don't know how they would handle the line passing through Israel. You can also find information here.

At World Public Opinion, you can read about the opinions of people across the world on the conflict. I didn't spend much time reading this, but it seems that most people think no one is doing this well. Who woulda thunk it?

I lost one link but it basically stated that these peace talks cannot be entirely legitimate as as long as the US is so involved. The US is the most powerful nation and, because of its alliance with Israel, creates an imbalance of diplomatic power that discredit the talks and possibly make the Palestinians less willing to cooperate because they feel the need to counter-act the American presence. 

And that's it. Don't forget to leave any links, advice, or opinions you want to share.

Reader Contributions:
An anonymous commenter submitted this link to a New York Times timeline of Mid East peace talks complete with links to more in-depth commentary.

1 comment:

  1. I like your new format and that you're providing perspectives on the news I don't normally read in the main stream media. Here is a link to a series of op-eds posted on that provide a history of perspectives on the Mideast peace talks