Middle East Notes and Comment: A Different Conflict
July 21, 2006
As Israeli jets scream over Lebanon and Hezbollah rockets slam into Israeli cities, the Arab-Israeli conflict is not reverting to form. The current conflict is different, and it highlights how much Arab-Israeli politics have changed in recent years. Israel has always portrayed itself as being surrounded by hostile states sworn to its destruction, and with good reason. It built a strong army to defend itself against these states and their proxies, and it fought war after war. Israel seized territory and it relinquished territory, and along the way, something interesting happened. The states on Israel’s borders largely signed on to an agenda of coexistence. The Palestine Liberation Organization, long sworn to Israel’s destruction, reconciled itself to claiming lands occupied in 1967 and in return was nurtured into being a proto-state. President Bush’s stated desire in June 2002 to see “Two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,” wasn’t visionary. It was merely an acknowledgment of where most governments in the region, and most Israelis and Palestinians, wanted negotiations to go.