Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sharon and Abbas versus Extremists


As I wrote about in the beginning of this year on this blog, the decesive immediate development in the search for peace between Israel and Palestine this year would be the respective leaders Ariel Sharon and Abu Mazen confronting the extremists in their respective camps.

This is certainly what we have been seeing in the last few weeks.

In Gaza, the police of the Palestinian Authority has been engaged in gun battles with the armed forces of the Hamas. And now in Israel, the confrontation between the police and the army on the one side and the extremist settlers over the coming evacuation of settlements in Gaza is heating up.

The extremists are feeding and fueling each other. For the settlers, there are no moderate Palestinians worth talking to, and Israelis that believe so are views as traitors to the cause. For the extremists on the Palestinians side there are no moderate Israelies worth talking to, and Palestinians that believe so are seen as traitors to the cause.

It's this logic of violence and intolerance that must be broken. And to me it looks as if the violence we see on the TV screens now are part of that process. The moderate majorities are no longer tolerating being harassed by the militant fringes of their respective societies.

As to the continuation, that's an open question. US Secretary of State Rice is on her way to the region to give support to the disengagement and the relative truce, and perhaps to start to discuss what will happen thereafter.

Important days ahead in the region.