Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Two-State Solution Now a Three-Way Stalemate

Wed Dec 24

".....That, of course, may be what President Abbas - and others in the Arab world hostile to Hamas - are counting on, as the only plausible scenario for restoring Fatah's control over Gaza. Abbas has threatened to call new presidential and parliamentary elections if Hamas won't recognize him as president after January 9, but that's an empty threat. Hamas controls Gaza, and it rejects holding new parliamentary elections there ahead of schedule. And Abbas is hardly assured of winning a solid mandate even in the West Bank, where the Fatah party's retains control but is beset by an image of corruption. Calling an election on the West Bank would risk seeing a turnout so low as to make a mockery of the poll. With such dubious prospects for an election, the most likely scenario for changing the balance of power in Gaza remains Israeli military intervention.

"The Palestinian Authority is expecting the Israeli Defense Force to go into Gaza and defeat Hamas, and then restore the control of Abu Mazen [Abbas]," an Israeli security official tells TIME. But the Israeli security establishment is skeptical of Abbas' ability to maintain control in Gaza, and continues to see risk outweighing reward from an invasion - although that calculation could change very quickly if a rocket fired from Gaza inflicted mass casualties in Israel.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council characterized as "irreversible" the Israeli-Palestinian talks that have been held at the behest of the Bush Administration over the past year. But they have simply been conversations that have resulted in no actual movement forward on the ground. The grim reality confronting all three sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the Obama Administration, in the New Year, is that the situation remains deadlocked, and that the stalemate will more likely be broken by a new round of violence than it is by any peace talks. "

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