The Current Discussion: With the Israeli re-invasion of Gaza, it's clear that the "Annapolis Peace Process" is collapsing. Does it matter? Who's to blame?
The situation in Gaza reflects exactly what happens when a superpower (like the U.S.) makes a plan, sets parameters, declares deadlines and then lets the situation on the ground fall apart. Conventional thinking in the Middle East is that the Israelis don't carry out wide-ranging military activities without a green light from Washington D.C. Whether or not they gave prior approval, the U.S. has done little to stop the Israelis excessive use of force, which, according to international humanitarian law, is a crime of war.
Furthermore, the situation in Gaza is also reflective of the illogical policy of accepting certain facts and rejecting other facts. President Bush sent a letter to the then Israeli Prime Minister Sharon telling him that the U.S. understands the realities of some of the illegal Jewish settlments built on Palestinian lands. Bush's April 2004 letter states, among other things, "in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion." But President Bush is unable or unwilling to the political and military realities in Gaza. The U.S. and Israelis refuse to deal with the fact that Hamas candidates won a free and fair election and the Hamas's military is in control of the situation on the ground in Gaza.
If anyone had doubts about the effects of the pressure cooker on the imprisoned 1.4 million Gazans, then the break of the border and the flood of people into Gaza last month should have been a clear sign that there is a humanitarian time bomb that must be dealt with quickly and in a humanitarian way. No moral or political explanation can justify permanently keeping the people of Gaza imprisoned with an unjust siege. If this isn't collective punishment I don't know what is. For the peace process to move, Washington needs to keep its eye on the ball and its engagement with Israelis and Palestinians continuous. The U.S. willingness as articulated in Annapolis to be a referee and not just an observer has yet to be fulfilled.
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