Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is Obama's "tough love" paying off?

Under continuous pressure from President Barack Obama and his Israel-Palestine team (special envoy George Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly ordered a construction freeze on a 900-apartment project in the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev in East Jerusalem. The neighborhood in question lies beyond the Green Line on land captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by Palestinians as the future capital of their potential state.

The announcement was made following a meeting between Mitchell and Netanyahu in Israel. Ordering a construction freeze in East Jerusalem (which Netanyahu has repeatedly indicated is not on the negotiating table and will remain united under Israeli sovereignty forever) will greatly undermine continued settlement expansion in the West Bank, and the move may in fact be an opening gesture to the Obama administration, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Arab world in general. In exchange for a partial settlement freeze, Netanyahu may be testing Obama's ability to convince Arab and Palestinian leaders to make reciprocal gestures to the Israelis.

Though I've never been a fan of this kind of incremental approach to peacemaking (for it allows both sides to easily break the flow and derail negotiations), the situation may be so mired in an impasse that these type of goodwill gestures may be needed to build trust for comprehensive good faith negotiations. This gives each party an opportunity to show they are truly serious about the peace process: The Israelis will show a willingness to freeze settlement construction and ease restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement; the Palestinians can continue to work to fulfill their Road Map obligations to fight and disrupt terrorism; the Arab League can show they intend to make real gestures toward normalization with Israel; and the Obama administration can work to prove to skeptics on all sides that the U.S. can influence the sides to advance the peace process. Leaning on Israel to freeze settlement activity is a very prudent method to show the Israelis that the administration is serious about peace and to show the Arabs that the U.S. is ready to be an honest broker in pursuit of regional peace and stability. If the U.S. backs down on such demands, it would have lost credibility with Palestinians and the Arab League and it would embolden the Netanyahu administration to spurn Obama's efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Huge problems still persist (including Palestinian factionalism and West Bank settlement expansion), but this is a very hopeful sign for Holy Land peace. It has been a while since I've felt hopeful - it's a good feeling.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reconsidering the two-state solution: FPWatch

"To me, the one state solution always seemed too abstract, like some sort of academic simplification that can only be brought up by someone who didn’t spend a single day in the region. If they did, they would have surly understood that the fate of this bi-national project might resemble that of Yugoslavia rather than Canada's."

I agree wholeheartedly. FP Watch asks, "where are we heading to if such a [two-state solution] will never exist?"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Update on Palestinian views of the PA police

Over the weekend I posted the following concerning PCPSR's poll of Palestinian attitudes toward reconciliation, the two-state solution, and trust in their governmental institutions. I left you hanging with the following and promised to find out the reason:
"A final thought-provoking matter concerning Palestinians' trust of their police institutions (especially the PA) is the rather high number (23%) of West Bank Palestinians that answered "other" when asked why they did not submit a crime report to police. Only 4% of respondents from the West Bank indicated that they did not want the crime to become public knowledge, compared to 10% in Gaza."
PCPSR Director Dr. Khalil Shikaki was kind enough to send a quick reply when I asked him about the issue. "The difference between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has to do with access to police facilities. Most rural West Bank lack police presence due to Oslo agreement restrictions. All 9 West Bank cases were in villages where access to police services is limited." Many villages are still under direct military and civilian control of the Israel Defense Forces because they are categorized as Area C under the 1994 Oslo Accords. Palestinian police are rarely able to enter these places even for routine police work, though based on the satisfaction of most Palestinians toward the PA police, I'm not sure they'd want them there anyway...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Palestinian hopelessness, in pictures

Earlier today I posted about the negative effects Palestinian hopelessness was having on the peace process and reconciliation efforts.

The BBC has several photos of Gaza six months after the recent war. Rubble is an infertile soil for the seeds of peace.

Palestinians think very little of their own government(s) too

The PCPSR report I referenced in my last post also has some very telling indicators on how Palestinians view the PA in the West Bank (ruled by Mahmoud Abbas) and the de facto Hamas-run regime in Gaza. Palestinians have little trust in these governments and the length individuals go to avoid the system (especially the police) is troubling to say the least.

Corruption has long been a problem in the Fateh-dominated Palestinian Authority, deriving from Arafat's authoritarian leadership over the faction even prior to the establishment of the PA. Current President Mahmoud Abbas was supposed to bring positive democratic reforms to the government and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was seen as a promising candidate to cut deep into the PA's corrupt economic practices (which comprised mainly of granting Fateh loyalists monopolies over various industries and withholding permits to opposition members).

Most Palestinians, however, have been less than satisfied with the PA's performance. The PCPSR study indicates that almost 70% of Palestinians believe there is still corruption in PA institutions while only 27% of respondents believe it will decrease.

On the issues of democratic practices and respect for human rights, only 35% of Palestinians believe the current status of the PA concerning these issues is good or very good. This figure drops to 30% when the question was asked about human rights and democracy under the Hamas regime in Gaza.

Only 43% of Palestinians have been satisfied with the leadership of Abbas since his election in 2005. Keep in mind of course that Mr. Abbas has been effectively ruling the West Bank by decree since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

The most troubling aspect of the survey for me is the level of mistrust that characterizes the relationship between Palestinians and their police and security services - comprised mainly of young faction loyalists at the present.

12% of Palestinians interviewed reported being the victim of a crime (either violence or theft) in the last year. Of this number,
"43% saythey have submitted a complaint to the police and security services and 56% say they did not. 35% of those who did not submit a complaint say the reason they did not submit one is that they do not trust the police while 44% say the police can not do anything to help them. 26% of those who did submit a complaint say they were satisfied with the police work in the investigation to uncover the circumstances of the crime while 73% say they were not satisfied. The levels of satisfaction with the performance of the police among those who submitted a complaint are similar in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."
Troubling indeed. But wait, there's more (if you've had time to digest the fact that almost 75% of Palestinians are unsatisfied with the police and a whopping 44% view them as incompetent stooges reminiscent of the Keystone Cops.) There are some major differences in the public's view of police services between the West Bank (Fatehstine) and the Gaza Strip (Hamastan). When the responses are broken down by territory, 50% of crime victims reported the incident to police in the West Bank while only 36% did so in the Gaza Strip, indicating that individuals living under the PA have greater confidence in the the police than those under the thumb of Hamas. However, Palestinians in Gaza have greater trust in the police but simply do not believe they will be able to address the problem. Mistrust of the police is about 10% higher in the West Bank (40%-30%). 20% more respondents from Gaza than the West Bank claimed the police could do little about a committed crime (52%-32%).

A final thought-provoking matter concerning Palestinians' trust of their police institutions (especially the PA) is the rather high number (23%) of West Bank Palestinians that answered "other" when asked why they did not submit a crime report to police. Only 4% of respondents from the West Bank indicated that they did not want the crime to become public knowledge, compared to 10% in Gaza. I am certainly in no position to speculate as to what this "other" category contains and why the responses were so high. I will e-mail the PCPSR directors and try to find more information. Stay tuned...

The Palestinian people on reconciliation

Updated below

Hamas and Fateh have delayed once again reconciliation talks aimed both at creating a unity government to administer both the West Bank and Gaza Strip and ending bitter feuding between the two political factions. A seventh round of talks has now been pushed back until August 25, indicating that Palestinian leaders from the two most powerful parties are not in any real hurry to change the status quo.

The Palestinian Center for Policy Survey and Research (my go-to guys for Palestinian opinion beyond the incompetent, stubborn, authoritarian leadership) has shed some light on what the Palestinian people think about reconciliation. The full report can be read here.

The poll was done in late May, but if you have tuned into Middle East news since then, you'll know full well that nothing substantial has changed. If you have not been obsessively following the region, don't worry, everything is still the same as it was since the beginning of the year.

Some interesting conclusions from the report:

Why won't the factions reconcile? "Findings fo the second quarter of 2009 show a stable balance of power between Fateh and Hamas compared to the situation in the first quarter." There it is, the status quo benefits both factions, who now find themselves at a relative equilibrium. While Hamas and Fateh benefit from this fractious, yet stable arrangement, the Palestinian people do not. Of course, the factions have shown little regard for the basic interests of the Palestinian people over the last several months. Their communal desire to keep the Territories politically fractured is not surprising in the least. Factional fighting is causing worry among the general population with 55% of respondents voicing concern that a member of their family might be injured by members of one of the factions. This number rises to 65% in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian people are hopeless about ending the Israeli occupation, but also "have no confidence in the ability of Fateh and Hamas to reach a reconciliation agreement." In short, the Palestinian people are disillusioned by Israel and their own leaders and hopeless that their situation will improve. Segueing from cause to effect - the hopelessness is indisputably linked to support for further violence in the conflict as PCPSR points out, "Support for launching rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli communities across the border increases considerably among the pessimists and decreases among the optimists." Obama's good-will gestures are not just feel-good measures, they help to create a real attitudinal change on the ground and plant the seeds of peace.

The Palestinian people are dismayed by the poltical factionalism and are worrisome about its effects on life in the Occupied Territories. "Findings also indicate that the overwhelming majority (90%) believes that the price of Fateh-Hamas conflicts is high or unbearable. 60% believe that Palestinian society can endure the price of division between Fateh and Hamas for less than a year or for a few years."

Despite their worry, Palestinians are also hopeless about their leaders' ability to reconcile, either with help or without. "60% believe that neither Fateh nor Hamas are able to unilaterally settle the conflict in its favor by military or political means and therefore they need dialogue while 22% say that the conflict between the factions can not be settled unilaterally or even through dialogue.

However, despite a desire for Hamas and Fateh to reconcile Palestinians are evenly divided on the issues of reconciliation, with 50% insisting that a unity government must accept all previous agreements signed with Israel and 44% rejecting the condition.

A hopeless, despairing Palestinian populace does not benefit any actors in the conflict, be it Fateh, Hamas, the Israelis, the Egyptians, or the Americans. The 51% of Palestinians that support the launching of Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli border communities will only increase if people see no hope for improvement in their daily lives or in the peace process. Instead, Palestinians continually see the opposite: more settlements gobbling up more agricultural land, more separation fence dividing Palestinian communities, more checkpoints strangling Palestinian society and the economy, piles of rubble still untouched since the war in Gaza, and factional fighting claiming innocent lives in the West Bank and Gaza.

A full 70% of Palestinians believe it to be impossible to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The despair just keeps piling up...

Update: Here an interesting morsel from the poll results that was not mentioned in the survey summary: Palestinians rank reconciliation as the most important priority facing Palestinian society today, above the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and the opening of borders.

PA reconsiders Al-Jazeera suspension

Appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has reportedly backed down on suspending the operations of the popular Al-Jazeera television network over its broadcast of comments made by senior Fateh leader Farouq Qaddoumi implicating President Mahmoud Abbas in conspiring to kill his predecessor Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian Authority accused Al-Jazeera of incitement and spreading "false information" and announced it would sue to network and suspend its West Bank operations until the conclusion of the trial. Fayyad has apparently backed down on the suspension but has decided to continue and try and prosecute Al-Jazeera under the 1995 Press and Publications law, which allows for freedom of the press as long as broadcasts to not undermine the "high interests of the Palestinian people."

Fayyad's decision was panned by a slew of media and rights organizations in Palestine, including Human Rights Watch, the Palestine Media Forum, the International Federation of Journalists, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. 60% of Palestinians regularly tune into Al-Jazeera, making it the network of choice for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bruno's "Terrorist"

Updated Below

Sascha Baron Cohen's new film "Bruno" features Cohen boldy and bravely confronting what he calls a Palestinian "terrorist" named Ayman Abu Aita. The star of Borat, Cohen recently appeared on David Letterman to talk about how he used CIA contacts and a team of security professionals to get an interview with this bloodthirsty killer.

Dion Nissenbaum has more over at Checkpoint Jerusalem.

It seems pretty clear that Cohen paints an extraordinarily flawed picture of the Palestinian territories, and his outright bragging on Letterman about his courage playing a gay man under fire in the West Bank (where he tried to get himself kidnapped) does nothing but propagate the same old stereotype about Arab societies in general, and Palestine in particular. This is quite ironic when his movie purports to illuminate just how intolerant individuals are when it comes to the homosexual community. I guess Cohen feels the need to break a window in order to build one.

There is absolutely no reason for Cohen to brag about his adventure into Bethlehem (with or without his crack security team). The city is tame and quiet for the most part. I remember even describing it as "sleepy" during my visit. The impressive Church of the Nativity sits outside of a large public plaza called Manger Square. Palestinian Christians and Muslims mill about the narrow streets buying goods at the outdoor market not far from the square. Keeping with tradition, the Imam of the large mosque across the square from the Nativity Church keeps the keys to prevent bickering between the various Christian sects that have set up shop in the church. No security detail is needed to wander aimlessly around the city. Tourism is down so much since the second Intifada that vendors and Palestinian children alike take notice and immediately offer their hospitality as a reward for making the trip few make these days. In fact, during my six months in the West Bank (living in a rented apartment in the Palestinian college town of Birzeit) the only moments I felt genuinely unsafe involved Palestinians AND Israeli soldiers. Regardless of where I traveled - with only rudimentary Arabic skills - Palestinians were pleasant and hospitable and I rarely felt as if I was being viewed with suspicion.

Cohen, in his quest to illuminate intolerance, displays his own faults in accepting without questioning stereotypes about Palestinian society.

Update: A Palestinian friend of mine made an interesting and insightful comment about Bruno's terrorist visit: "I suspect Cohen is hiding behind the fact that he's making a pseudo-documentary, and that when he introduces this guy as a terrorist, it is 'Bruno's naive description' and not Cohen's." Cohen would certainly have an easier time writing off criticism concerning this issue had he not appeared on Letterman as himself rather than Bruno and boasted about the trip.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

PLO lashes out over Qaddoumi comments

The PLO has wasted no time in moving to disparage and punish Farouq Qaddoumi for remarks he made in Amman, Jordan insinuating that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas conspired with Israeli agents to kill his predecessor Yasser Arafat. The popular Al-Jazeera television network's operations in the West Bank have been suspended by the Fateh-dominated Palestinian Authority for reporting on the comments. The PA charged Al-Jazeera with incitement against the government and spreading false information. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad appears to be spearheading the effort to censor Al-Jazeera.

The "false information" charge appears to be false in itself, as the Palestinian Liberation Organization has lashed out at Qaddoumi over his alleged comments. The PLO is not alleging the senior Fateh party leader was misqouted or misattributed to him, but that Qaddoumi is a senile, deranged shell of a man, seeking to sew the seeds of chaos in order to grab more power in Fateh. They have threatened to remove him from PLO.

Here is a smattering of what the PLO has said about Qaddoumi:

He has "lost his psychological balance" and is suffering from a "sick mind." "Apparently his advanced age is responsible for the remarks he made," said former PA security chief Mohammad Dahlan.

The PA sets a dangerous authoritarian precedent by suspending the operations of a media outlet that simply printed comments stated by a top Fateh official. To shut down such a popular sattelite network (60% of Palestinians regularly tune in, making the station the most popular in Palestine), the PA shows how truly worried it is about its legitimacy, it's power relative to Hamas, and controlling speech to save the "national interest."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Palestinian Authority's creeping authoritarianism continues

Updated Below

Since the Oslo Accords and the subsequent implementation of Palestinian self-government in the form of the Palestinian National Authority, governance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been characterized by a kind of dangerous creeping authoritarianism where the PA has attempted to undermine or co-opt Palestinian civil society organizations (NGOs, media outlets, other political parties) in an attempt to gain firm control over the lives of the Palestinian people. Yasser Arafat began this trend in earnest, but the election of current president Mahmoud Abbas was supposed to bring about comprehensive Palestinian governmental reform, eliminating rampant corruption, establishing and defending the rule of law, and strengthening the separation of powers between the executive and the legislature. Small steps have been made by Abbas, but certainly not what he initially promised or what most Palestinians and Western commentators hoped for.

Continuing this trend of creeping authoritarianism, the caretaker government appointed by Abbas moved to sue and suspend the operations of the Al-Jazeera television network in the West Bank. The truly Orwellian Palestinian Information Ministry (can anyone show me a regime with an "information ministry" that isn't characterized by creeping or outright authoritarianism?) accused the Qatar-based network of inciting Palestinians against the PA, sympathizing with Hamas, and spreading "false information." The allegations stem from a report broadcast by Al-Jazeera and several other television networks in the West Bank which cited comments made by senior Fateh leader Farouq Qaddoumi accusing President Mahmoud Abbas of conspiring with Israeli agents to assassinate his predecessor Yasser Arafat.

The Information Ministry released a statement containing the following:
"Al-Jazeera has always dedicated a wide portion of its broadcasts to incitement against the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. Despite repeated requests to be impartial in its coverage of Palestinian affairs, the station continued to incite against the PLO and the PA. The latest false news was aired yesterday. We expect media outlets operating in Palestine to go about their work in a way that does not contradict Palestinian national interest and rule of law."
The ministry's comments are certainly indicative of the soft-authoritarian nature of the Palestinian Authority. (Perhaps by publishing this I will not be allowed back in the Occupied Territories for "incitement and false information.") The PA has long used the assertion that organizations must not act to contradict the "national interest" as a foolproof method to assert control over independent civil society organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Of course, the PA alone has the power to assert what exactly the Palestinian national interest is and unsurprisingly this does not include criticizing the less than democratic PA and the confused and increasingly irrelevant PLO. Furthermore, what exactly does it mean to ask media outlets to work in a way that does not contradict the rule of law? Isn't that just a convoluted way of saying it is illegal to break the law? The PA certainly could use a refresher course on the rule of law, as the current appointed government has not constitutional legitimacy to be ruling the West Bank and President Abbas is basically ruling by decree. Of course, since the inception of Palestinian self-government the Fateh-led PA has never really shown a strong commitment to the rule of law.

The Palestinian Media Forum strongly criticized the PA for its Al-Jazeera suspension and warned that the government was acting similarly to the Israeli Defense Forces, shutting down media outlets it deems a threat.

The Al-Jazeera network fired back against the PA suspension stating, "The Palestinian Authority's reaction reflects a repression of the freedom of media and a refusal to tolerate the opinions of others." Al-Jazeera's statement could not be further from "false information" but it certainly incites Palestinians to demand the reform they deserve from their government.

Update: Ma'an News, my go-to Palestinian media outlet has highlighted the relevant section of the Palestinian Basic Law pertaining to the freedom of press. Chapter 2, Article 14 reads:
"Every person shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression and publication of his opinion either orally, in writing or in the form of art or through any form of expression, subject to observance of restrictions imposed by law for the respect of the rights or reputations of others, the protection of national security or of public order or of public health or morals."
That certainly has far more qualifiers than any free press advocate would like, but it appears the case against Al-Jazeera would be flimsy at best. Printing Qaddoumi's actual words in no way infringes on the rights or reputations of him. Alleging that the comments endanger national security or public order is a long-shot at best and a hilarious joke at worst. Reporting that Fateh is facing serious internal factionalism is not "news" in any sense to Palestinians. The disputes have been embarrassingly public since the Gaza takeover in 2007 and power struggles within Fateh and the PLO have been known for decades.

The most disappointing development in all of this seems to be the collusion of Western-backed "reformer" Salam Fayyad in Al-Jazeera's suspension. Fayyad himself ordered Attorney General Ahmed Al-Mughani to pursue the suit agains the network. While Fayyad ran for Palestinian Legislative Council under the Third Way party and was appointed PM by Abbas for his independent credentials and Western support, it seems he has grown much closer to Fateh and abandoned his role as independent reformer as of recent.

The Palestinian Center for Policy, Survey, and Research reports that nearly 60% of Palestinians regularly tune in to the Al-Jazeera network, nearly six times the number of the second most popular station, Al-Aqsa TV.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Riding the Jerusalem Carousel

It increasingly seems as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mired in an intractable impasse, with both sides unable to agree on anything. There is one hobby they do share, however, and fittingly so because continuing their habit requires the dedication and participation of Palestinians and Israelis alike. This common ground is what I refer to as the "Jerusalem Carousel" - the practice of stubbornly propagating circular arguments with the explicit purpose of stalling negotiations, preventing compromise, and averting any and all hard decisions. Round and round go the allegations, demands, and preconditions. Both sides have fun, look bold for their constituents, and stave off criticism from the international community and moderate, pragmatic elements within their own societies.

There are many such Jerusalem Carousels. So many, in fact, that the Holy Land could be easily described as a carnival of frustration, chaos, lost hopes, violence, and unfulfilled dreams. A nightmare indeed. Here are several examples of the aforementioned carousels:

Palestinian Reconciliation and Israeli Settlements

Barack Obama has himself seemingly jumped onto this ride, injecting his foreign policy team into the question of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and attempting to work with the Egyptians to achieve a Palestinian unity government. The sad fact is that more riders on the carousel do not help bring the whole ride to a stop. Instead they simply provide more momentum, furthering the impasse.

Palestinian reconciliation is stalled because the Israelis have not demonstrated any real intention (i.e. freezing settlements) to pursue an acceptable two-state resolution to the conflict. The current Israeli administration has no incentive to pursue a settlement freeze (even one accommodating "natural growth") until the Palestinians end their embarrassing factional feud and present a legitimate government actually capable of negotiating on behalf of the entire Palestinian people. The incentives just do not exist to spur reconciliation or decisive Israeli action on settlements. Both sides are waiting for the other to get their house in order before embarking on the frustrating and potentially politically dangerous task of organizing their own. Fateh-Hamas reconciliation could seriously weaken one of the parties and both factions surely cannot accept the risk if the Israelis do not seem ready to deal on terms the Palestinians would actually accept for a future state. Similarly, an Israeli administration imposing a settlement freeze faces severe domestic opposition by the highly organized settler movement and conservative Israelis. Why make sacrifices if the other side seems far from ready to compromise for a solution to the problem?

The Gaza Carousel

Carousels in the Holy Land are not just frustrating contributors to impasse. They have the potential to beget and sustain terrible violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Take for example the recent war in Gaza. After holding a 6-month ceasefire, Hamas and Israel were unable to negotiate a continuation because of the presence of such a carousel. Hamas demanded (and still demands) that Israel open the borders of the coastal enclave to humanitarian goods in order to stop the firing of rockets. Israel in return asserts that Hamas must stop all rocket fire from the Strip (including attacks by groups such as Islamic Jihad and the PFLP, both unaffiliated with Hamas) in order for the borders to be open to basic supplies.

Neither side will back down out of fear of providing the other with a demonstrable victory. Compromising on a Jerusalem Carousel are out of the question as well, for jumping off the ride before it stops is apparently a clear sign of weakness, rather than a gesture of good will and a desire to provide security and stability for one's own population.

A similar carousel exists with regard to captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, abducted by Hamas militants just outside the Gaza Strip over three years ago. His freedom now seems to be linked to the opening of Gaza's borders, with both sides making demands on the other in an ever familiar cyclic fashion.

The Original Carousel

The lesson here is that the leadership of both sides will do whatever it takes to avoid making hard decisions and offering any compromises to the other side in an attempt to garner support and legitimacy among their domestic population. Israelis and Palestinians have generally rewarded leaders that have been strong and stubborn in the face of the Other. Arafat and Sharon are textbook examples. Both were at their peak of popularity when they were all but completely disregarding the claims, hopes, and demands of the other side and focused to a fault on pursuing an unattainable goal - security for their own people without considering the security of the Other. And that is the original Jerusalem Carousel: Israeli violence begets Palestinian violence and vice versa, Palestinian mistrust begets Israelis mistrust and vice versa, and cynicism becomes pervasive. Both communities believe they can have peace and security independent of that of their neighbor. This is the carousel that when finally stopped by the collaborative strength, determination, and courage of both Israelis and Palestinians will effectively lead to a just and lasting solution to the conflict.