The Jordan Times (Editorial)
February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

Are we seeing the return of the US as an active mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Reported US displeasure with Israeli foot-dragging in allowing in humanitarian aid to Gaza certainly signals that Israel will no longer be allowed to get away with just anything.

That the US will also donate $900 million for the reconstruction of this poor and much-pummelled strip of land is also a positive sign, even if Western donors were happy in the past to pour money into Palestine and then see it all be blown away by Israel to no noticeable protest.

We can but hope. US pressure on Israel to abide by international law is a sine qua non of any hope for peace in this region. It has been that way since 1967 and remains that way today.

The adverse political conditions in the US work against getting our hopes up anywhere. But a good place to start may indeed be Gaza.

The reconstruction of Gaza is something the international community at least appears to be able to agree on, a product of a guilty conscience, perhaps. And that reconstruction can serve several ends.

First, it can be a political carrot to the estranged Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fateh, to patch up their differences and unite. It can also be the excuse the international community apparently needs to properly and seriously engage Hamas, something that is long overdue.

With quiet and a return to something like a normal existence for the long-suffering 1.5 million people there, efforts can then turn to the occupied West Bank, where Israeli settlement activities continue at pace.

A success story in Gaza may ease the way on the new administration in Washington to face down its own demons in Congress, to begin ending this anti-peace industry.

It is an uphill battle, particularly if a right-wing Israeli coalition eventually takes power. But it is one that must be taken for the sake of the region and of the US foreign policy.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017