Sunday, September 13, 2009

Peace Talks in Middle East

Ever since Israel's creation, there has been lots of controversy about what land agreements should be concrete in that region in terms of what borders are followed, what settlements are allowed to exist, how much Israel is allowed to control surrounding territories (with the wall, checkpoints, etc), and whose capitol is Jerusalem.

America, being the country that largely influenced its creation, is still a very strong ally to Israel today. America has often spoken of helping end the conflict through peace talks and negotiation.
However, despite our strong stance, support of Israel, and talks of peace over the years, America's role in helping Israelis and Palestinians negotiate peace really hasn't led to much progress. When representatives of the United States have visited the region, not many concrete changes have been established because the various sides of the conflict have very strong views, many of which cannot be solved by a simple compromise, and the US perhaps has not wanted to spend the time and energy focusing on the regions problems that would be needed to bring about change.

President Bush, for example, didn't talk very much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until the final years of his presidency. In April 2008 he said that he hoped his plans for peace process would be successful by the end of his term in office.

Since then, the same problems and controversies still pervade the conflict, and Israel recently began building/funding more settlements in the West Bank, despite strong US disapproval and the counter-productive effect it will have on the peace process, which in many ways requires a stop to settlement growth in order to ensure the sovereignty of both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Despite the obstacles, President Obama has planned to hold peace negotiations this Tuesday in the middle east, relatively early in his term. Obama has shown in his other pursuits such as health care that he aims to make progress on issues that have long been avoided. Many do not have high expectations, however. Do you think Obama has a chance of reaching any sort of solution through negotiations and critique, or will he fall short without putting in the commitment and time needed?

Some have criticized Obama of being anti-Israel for having criticism for some of Israel's policies. But considering the animosity that the US's alliance with Israel has created in the middle east, and with so many people living in Israel and Palestine wanting peace, is the US obligated to help solve this conflict, or should we stay out of it? Is there a need to go a step further than peace talks and bring about some change, such as put economic pressure on Israel?

More importantly, are the different sides of this conflict capable of reconciling when their opinions are based on such different histories, or is an outside agent needed for the change?

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