A Ray Of Hope?

The Jerusalem Post reports that “Leftists, Palestinians near ‘Swiss Agreement‘” along the lines of the proposed Taba compromise of early 2001, under which Israel would cede some 95 percent of the occupied territories, Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, and for the right of refugees to return to a Palestinian state, but not to Israel.

Sure, such an agreement would not have any legal effect – and it is hard to imagine how something that wasn’t truly accepted by a gambling Arafat back in 2000 could become official Israeli policy now given the tragic state of affairs). But it would certainly signal to the world that there are still people in Israel and among the Palestinians who are willing to go all the way for a negotiated agreement. Depending on press coverage, it could be an extremely powerful political signal.

No wonder Ariel Sharon already denounced any possible agreement even before its conclusion (from the Jerusalem Post):

“There is a cynical political attempt by Labor and the Left to topple the government at a time when it is fighting terror,” Sharon said. “This must be taken seriously. They did it in a time of war before, and now, too, they are cooperating with the Palestinians in a time of war.”

Of course, it is impossible to predict both peoples’ reactions in these violent times. But Sharon’s reaction somehow implies that it would help recreate hope, the scarcest resource in the Middle East these days.