Saturday, January 31, 2009

Israel and Future of Middle East Peace

Now that the dust has settled on the Gaza Operation, it is clear that Israel did not have any clear victory in terms bringing Hamas Leadership to senses. Surprise is on the heel of 2006 Hezbollah Operation, Israel would conduct another of such operation with so defused focus. Militarily the campaign was well run. But apart from prolonging rocket missile capabilities of Hamas by few months, what did Israel get tangible in medium to long term? Nothing much seems. All in all the operation seems to have been more driven by need to shore political fortunes of Barak and Livni and utilizing the last window of Conservative backing before Obama took over from Bush. Incidentally, the military operations stopped just before Obama started his presidency.

The way political winds are blowing, it is unlikely that Barak and Livni would benefit much from this in their electoral quest. Bibi seems all set to come back since he is able to argue that it is the failure of Olmert and his band of leaders to route Hamas.

It is said that Obama’s envoy Mitchell, currently on visit to Middle East, would ask Israel stop creating new settlements in West Bank as well as remove earlier ones. He is supposed to be even handed in demanding this crucial concession. But with Bibi as PM will Israel listen to that? It does not seem possible, meaning really it is a hopeless task for Mitchell to work off his Ireland magic here. The only solace is you are likely to get a hard liner Israeli as PM when all true peace making moves happen on the watch of these hard liners. In one sense, consequential bargains can be pulled off by hawks when essentially all non-conservatives rally with that leader. That is the slim hope here. Otherwise, things do not look any promising for any long lasting solution there.

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