There is no way to settle the Mideast conflict today
The collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime is not likely to initiate the resolution of the entire complex of problems in the Middle East. Iraq is just a part of this Gordian knot. One option, of course, is to try to cut this knot with a single movement, but this will not result in anything good either. Attempts to settle the Mideast crisis, which has already become a permanent one, will definitely lead to unpredictable consequences.
Israel is the only country in the region that gained some profit from the Americans' victory in Iraq. However, it is impossible to call it a strategic achievement: Israel only got a temporary break. Its Arab neighbors are currently in the state of a stupor, and it is obvious that the Israeli government is trying to get an advantage from this state of affairs.
For example, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has stated that Syria has stored a large number of chemical weapons. This was definitely a hint for Washington — it would be good to deal with Damascus. In addition, Israel has more problems with Syria than it had with Iraq, at least during the last years of Saddam’s rule. Nevertheless, Sharon's statements are not yet enough to push the American administration into waging war against Syria.
However, neither Sharon nor his coterie wish to look like "hawks" to the world community who crave immediate punishment for their opponents. Sharon also said that Israel was ready to conduct serious negotiations with Palestinians in order to erase the contradiction, as if the crushing of Saddam’s regime had raised new perspectives for dialogue.
It is not clear what Sharon was talking about. If he implied that the previous Iraqi leadership rendered help to Palestinians, Iraq did not play the main role in this respect. Other countries of the Persian Gulf rendered much more help to their Palestinian "brothers," although those states did not support the war in Iraq. Washington is not likely to sacrifice relations with those countries in order to help Israel settle its problems with the Palestinians. This is not going to happen, at least not in the near future, until the post-war situation in Iraq becomes more or less clear.
Moreover, Ariel Sharon recently stated at a conference of the Likud party that there is a certain condition to starting negotiations with Palestine: Arabs are supposed to reject their right to return to within the border of the present Jewish state. Needless to say, there are many doubts whether the Palestinians will agree to negotiate with such a condition in place. There will most likely be absolutely no progress achieved in the settlement of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the short term. The two nations will have to make serious concessions to each other for that. Are Arabs ready for this after such humiliation? Is Israel ready for this as a winner of the Iraqi war, although it did not play a direct role in it? Well, not now.
Even if the incumbent Palestinian leadership agreed to accept Israel's conditions, it would not be a start for peace in the Middle East. Radical groups are too strong in Palestine and neighboring countries. They should not to be listed as losers either. Hamas, Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad (and dozens of other terrorist groups) will have a many new members soon.
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