Peace process absent in Israel

Recent events will have little impact on talks between feuding nations.

Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi was assassinated on Oct. 17 by a four-man Palestinian squad. The assassination was the first ever by Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced on Monday his troops would not release their hold on a West Bank town until the Palestinians turn over the militants responsible for the assassination, according to the Associated Press.

Dan Goffman, professor of history, said the events will have no effect on the peace process in the Middle East.

"There is no peace process, " Goffman said. "There were no negotiations before, and I don't think there will be now."

Ball State history professor Kevin Smith agrees.

"The assassination and Israel's response to it are escalating a crisis that was already severe," Smith said. "If this were taking place at a time where we weren't dealing with the attacks on Sept. 11, this would be making global headlines because it is a crucial moment."

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has claimed responsibility for the assassination, stating it was an act of revenge for Israel's killing of PFLP leader Mustafa Zibri on Aug. 27. Israel has said they believe Zibri was behind several attacks against Israelis.

Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat will decide if Zeevi's assassins will be released to Israeli officials.

"He can't release them." Goffman said. "If he does, his legitimacy as leader of the Palestinians will be lost. If not, there's no chance of moving forward in what doesn't exist anyway."

According to the Associated Press, thousands of Israeli demonstrators have demanded Sharon expel Arafat. Goffman said Arafat is now in an impossible position, but it is nothing new.

"Arafat has been in an impossible situation since 1968," Goffman said. "I'm amazed that he's still alive, because there are so many people angry at him from both sides."

While the Israelis are also demanding action against Arafat, Palestinians are demanding action be taken against Sharon. According to Smith, the Palestinians view Sharon as a war criminal who facilitated the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 at Sabra and Shatila, refugee camps that were the site of a massacre of muslims by Lebanese Christians.

That animosity was further fueled by Sharon's visit in September 2000 to the al-Aqsa Mosque in the al-Haram al-Sharif compound of Jerusalem. The mosque is called the Temple Mount by the Jews, but it is one of Islam's holiest shrines.

Sharon was then an opposition leader and denied his visit triggered the uproar that occurred later, which resulted in the death of 596 Palestinians and 169 Israelis.

In a statement, the prime minister's office said, "The murder of Rehavam Zeevi crossed the red line and Israel, as any democratic country, is exerting its right to self defense and the defense of its citizens."

Since the murder, at least 56 Palestinians and an Israeli have been killed.

Smith said even if the reasonable people on both sides cooperated, there would still be unreasonable people determined to fight on for absolute victory.

However, Smith said, there is still the possibility a resolution can be reached and peace can be restored.

"It's not without hope," Smith said. "Time can heal all wounds if people will let it; but if you don't resolve problems, it leaves the door open for more situations like this."


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