On a daily basis, we read in newspapers and on the Web about deadly clashes between Hamas and Fatah in the Palestinian territories. Part of the peace process requires that these two opposing groups somehow put their differences aside and form a unified government. Why aren’t the neighboring Arab countries stepping up to the plate and putting real pressure on the Palestinians to move in this direction?
For a number of reasons, unfortunately, it is to their advantage to keep the Palestinians stirred up and hostile. With world attention focused on the fighting taking place between Hamas and Fatah, less attention is being paid to what is actually going on in other Arab countries. Iran and Syria are two cases in point. We know that terrorists smuggle weapons into the Palestinian territories by way of Syria. And we know that Iran has a very questionable nuclear development program underway. Both of these rogue countries want to keep world attention focused in other directions; so instead of working toward promoting peace, they often throw more fuel on the fire between Hamas, Fatah and Israel.
The finger is always pointed toward Israel as the culprit behind all of the Palestinians’ woes. But without a heartfelt desire to achieve peace by all parties involved, there will never be lasting peace in the region. Israel is constantly forced to defend itself in one way or another—often in the arena of public opinion—and when it bows to public pressure, it is never a good outcome for Israel. The Palestinians are demanding the right of return for third-generation refugees and that Israel halt all settlement growth as part of the peace process. This, they say, is non-negotiable. Meanwhile, Israel is saying, “No way.”
I hope and pray that Israel stands firm. To people who don’t understand the ramifications of allowing Palestinian refugees to return to Gaza and the West Bank, Israel’s stance sounds rather harsh. But it’s not harsh. It’s simply a matter of self-preservation.
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