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March 15th, 2010
12:48 PM ET

Peace process prolongs Mideast war

David Frum
CNN Contributor

Vice President Joe Biden has "condemned." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scolded - and then leaked the scolding. On background, U.S. aides fret that the Israeli announcement of new settlement construction may thwart resumption of the peace process.

Let me advance an unorthodox opinion: The most dangerous cause of instability in the Middle East is the so-called peace process itself.

I know this is an unusual point of view. Please hear me out.

By my count, there have been at least 10 major outbursts of violence between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East since 1936.

Every one of these conflicts ended in a similar way. Either outside powers imposed a ceasefire - or else Israel halted military operations just before a ceasefire could be imposed.

Every one of these conflicts began in a similar way, too: with a renewed attack by the Arab side, or else (as in 1956 or 1967) by Arab violations of the terms of the previous armistice or ceasefire.

Think for a minute how unusual this is. Wars usually end when one side or the other decides it cannot continue fighting. The losing side accepts terms it had formerly deemed unacceptable because the alternative - continued fighting - seems even worse.

I doubt many Hungarians are delighted to have lost more than half their territory to neighbors in Romania and the former Yugoslavia. Bolivians still remember the loss of their Pacific coast to Chile in 1884. Some in Indonesia continue to regard East Timor as rightfully theirs.

Yet for the most part, these nations have reconciled themselves to these unwelcome outcomes.

Exactly the opposite has occurred in the Arab-Israeli dispute.

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Filed under: Israel • Middle East • Opinion • Palestine
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    The Middle East may be more about hate than land. Unrelenting hatred passed down for generations that pits Arabs against the Israelis may be disguised as an effort to get their land back in an effort to make the continued fighting appear to be understandable and sympathetic to the rest of the world in a way that hatred would not be. When Israel was conceived as an independent country and recognized by the UN the Arab countries vowed to fight the Israelis until they had pushed them all back into the sea – even though its more than half a century later this effort may be at the base of what we see today. Just a thought.....

    March 15, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  2. alice

    I have always been a supporter of Isreal although I am not Jewish, but I am ashamed that they continue to antagonize the Arabs. Everyone must make sacrifices for peace, its time that Isreal does its part to show the world that it is not just this bully in the Middle East.

    I would hope that the Jews of the world put pressure on Isreal to do the right thing... Please.

    March 15, 2010 at 8:14 pm |