The Israeli-Palestinian war: between risks of extension, mere exit from crisis and real peace opportunities

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The violent clash between Israelis and Palestinian, since September 2000, is widely press-covered and spurs anxious reactions from Ministries of Foreign Affairs as well as average citizens, particularly in the West and the Arab world. However, it should not be taken for granted that this new, and alas, bloody confrontation stands for the so-called Middle East Œpower keg¹. After three years, the second Intifada has not triggered off any new disruption in the region, although the risk for a global upheaval can never be ruled off. To obtain a calming down, two conditions are compulsory : on the one hand, a US intervention – which cannot be expected under the Presidency of George W. Bush – and, on the other hand, a change in the strategic line of conduct of both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. But Ariel Sharon and Yassir Arafat bet on the opponent wearing out in the context of a balance of power. And despite the obvious failures of their interacting strategies, both leaders intend to carry on with them. Eventually, the Road Map, signed in 2003, thanks to the pragmatic and innovative thinking it proceeds from, should contribute to any hope of a settlement. At the same time, the informal Geneva Initiative, taken on December 1st 2003 (by Yossi Beilin and Yassir Abbed Rabbo) provides the general frame of a peace-to-be between the State of Israel and an embryonic State of Palestine. Be that as it may and whatever be the fate of the Road Map and the Geneva Initiative, a final peace treaty will result from pragmatism and everlasting balance of power rather than from sententious utopian views. – Summary AFRI-2004