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Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Are Suspended. So What?

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
September 29, 2010
Wall Street Journal

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The sky is not falling. Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations were suspended on Sunday, perhaps briefly and perhaps for months, after Israel's 10-month moratorium on settlement construction expired. Palestinian officials said they would refuse to talk if construction restarted, and so they did. Yet war hasn't broken out, nor will it.

Terrorism exploded after the Camp David talks broke down in 2000 because the Palestinians' leader at the time, Yasser Arafat, supported it. Fortunately, those days are gone. As current Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told Jewish leaders in New York last week, violence "has to be dealt out of the equation permanently regardless of what happens in the peace process."

Also last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reminded his people that "we tried the intifada and it caused us a lot of damage." Hamas, the terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, can commit acts of terror at any time. But with Israeli and Palestinian officials working together to keep the peace, Hamas can't create a general uprising.

Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) have been an on-again, off-again affair since they began with the Oslo Accords in 1993. During the Arafat years talks alternated with terrorism, for Arafat viewed both as useful and legitimate tactics. After the so-called second intifada of 2000-2001 and the 9/11 attacks, Israel's then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ran out of patience with that game, as did President George W. Bush. From then on they worked to push Arafat aside.

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