The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr reflects on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

DANIEL SCHORR: You may have noticed that I don't often comment on the situation of the Palestinians and the Israelis.

ROBERT SMITH, host:

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: The reason very simply is that I don't understand it very well. About the time I think I understand that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is President Bush's delegate in trying to negotiate peace, the birth pains of a new Middle East, she calls it; another peacemaker comes over the horizon, the just-retired British Prime Minister Tony Blair representing the international quartet, which includes the United States.

About the time I think I understand that Hamas, the militant Palestinian organization that has taken over Gaza, is being boycotted by the West as a terrorist group. The New York Times and The Washington Post simultaneously published op-ed articles by Ahmed Yousef, the spokesman for Hamas. He doesn't write like a terrorist. He talks of a 10-year truce with Israel.

So looking for something that makes sense, I turned to my friend Milton Viorst, a certified Middle East maven. Just back from his latest trip to the region, and here are a couple of Milton's observations.

Whatever you may hear of our crisis, the status quo in Israel is sweet with the economy booming and Israelis moving into better housing. The Middle East is virtually alive with hints of peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has promised to meet regularly with Palestinian moderate Mahmoud Abbas. And it's possible that both of these weak leaders may advance the peace agreement that has eluded far stronger predecessors.

Also, Jewish settlements in the West Bank remained a big problem and the Israeli wall has made things worse. Seventy percent of Israelis favor disbanding the Jewish settlements on Palestinian soil if that would advance peace, but the settlers formed an intimidating lobby.

Israeli checkpoints have paralyzed normal intercourse among West Bank Arabs, and this raises a question, the Israelis cannot dismiss - security or peace?

When will this end? At the moment, says Milton, the answer is far from clear.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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