What Prevents Peace in the Middle East?
Israel’s former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, draws attention to a major cause of the conflict in the Mideast in his book A Place Among the Nations. He wrote: “Here, in a nutshell, is the main problem of achieving peace in the Middle East: Except for Israel, there are no democracies. None of the Arab regimes is based on free elections, a free press, civil rights and the rule of law” (1993, p. 248, emphasis in original). Humanly speaking, Mr. Netanyahu is right. Many Arab regimes border on being outright dictatorships, subject to assassinations and changes of power by coups d’état. Fear of assassination may have been one of the main reasons Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat rejected Ehud Barak’s last peace proposal just before a wholesale return to street violence in several areas of the West Bank and Gaza. According to some reports, Mr. Arafat is said to have told President Clinton that if he accepted that offer he would be killed. Historical reasons are evident for the lack of dem