Soldier's Abduction Blocks Peace Plan

The abduction of Israeli Cpl. Gilead Shalit by the militant group Hamas will undoubtedly set back the effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr explains why.

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Turmoil in the Middle East was an overarching challenge for Madeline Albright and it's front and center now, too, on Condoleezza Rice's agenda. Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr examines this week's events.

DANIEL SCHORR reporting:

The oldest established crisis in the world has taken a turn - for the worst, of course. Under heavy economic pressure, the ruling Hamas party agreed with the moderate Fatah to endorse a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem, by implication accepting the existence of Israel.

Last weekend, two Israeli soldiers were killed and one captured by supporters of the so-called military wing of Hamas, which has its headquarters in Damascus. So now the fate of 19-year-old corporal Gilad Shalit has come to dominate everything else, at least as far as the Israelis are concerned. Offers to trade him for Palestinian prisoners have been ignored. There has been an incursion in force into Gaza.

Fatah president Mahmoud Abbas has appealed to the United States to intervene and get Israel to call off this operation. But there is no sign that the Bush administration will become involved in what looks like a no win situation. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has been traveling in Afghanistan and Pakistan, made a rather pro forma statement urging Israel to allow more time for international diplomacy to negotiate the soldier's release.

It may be ironic that one live hostage has had a more profound effect than many deaths on both sides by bomb and by bullet. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stated, we won't hesitate to carry out extreme action to bring Gilad back to his family.

Whatever happens, there is no doubt that the capture of this soldier will have the effect of setting back the effort to create a united Palestinian government and any effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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