Getting to Gaza

The problem with any analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that if it gets too bogged down in details, the problems become intractable, and if it treats the issues too generally, it has little practical use. Yesterday, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing on the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in the aftermath of Gaza, and this testimony by Ziad Asali (.pdf) is well worth a read.

Asali gives both immediate and longterm background on the Gaza War and the rise of Hamas, as well as a post-action report that gives a sense of the actual task ahead to rebuild Gaza (enormous) and the possibilities for progress on a final status peace agreement (limited but tangible). Most importantly, he demonstrates the ways in which the war and its consequences were almost predetermined by the positions both sides took over the course of the past eight years, following the initial period of frustration (1998-2000) in the post-Oslo peace process that led to the second Intifada.

One of the biggest obstacles to resolving a conflict is often the refusal of both sides to agree on what has caused it. Asali’s account is a pretty balanced one that avoids moral judgment, while apportioning responsibility to all parties for the consequences of their choices.