Weariness and Hope
Israeli and Palestinian opinion polls indicate that both people want to end the mutual violence and afford another chance to mediation efforts in the quest for peace. Still, there are those on both sides, who advocate for measures to subdue the other. Both results seem contradictory, as how can violence expressed by oppression and retaliation be both supported and opposed?
In fact, this contradiction is only superficial. If one examines the question in depth, one finds that both contradictions can easily exist side by side. As far as Israelis are concerned, there is no other way but to opt for military and oppressive measures to put an end to the violence used by Palestinians as means of protest and resistance against the ongoing occupation and oppression. The same applies to Palestinians. Having despaired from bitter negotiation efforts and inability to fulfill through it their legitimate aspiration for deliverance and independence they have no other choice but to resort to a violent struggle.
Therefore, we find that both people have opted for violence, thinking that only this path will fulfill their utmost aspiration. Israelis believe that oppression will enable them to eliminate with one final strike the threat on their comfortable complacent lives threatened by Palestinians' unreasonable aspirations. Palestinians on their part are enticed to think that causing Israelis pain on their own territory will eventually force them to surrender to their demands.
The implication is that both sides opt for the military alternative, designed to defeat and submit to the other's demands, "hit them till they break" is the common expression used by both sides.
Still, after over two years of insurgence, mutual slaying, heavy loss of lives, the damaged economy and low moral, both sides remain unbreakable and express their willingness to tolerate more sacrifices and suffering in the hope that the other side will succumb first.
On the other hand, hope to bring an end to the sparring of "who will succumb first" arises through US mitigation efforts that will force both sides to return to the peace track in a way that will satisfy their pride, challenges and arrogance, and enable each side to say "I did not succumb first". It is for this reason that we notice wide support for outside political initiatives, as the mutual combat continues, in recent initiative like the European-American Road Map.
Due of this line of thought, the option of peace remains open and both sides are prepared to compromise and reach an agreement. The Israelis, in spite of their stubbornness and option for a military solution and election of a radical government that offers nothing but a crude iron fist, are increasingly prepared to make the necessary concessions following an agreement and peace, concessions unthought-of before like dismantlingthe settlements and an independent Palestinian state. As for Palestinians, as recent opinion polls indicate readiness, if a mutual cease-fire agreement is reached, to risk civil war in order to fulfill the requirements of such an agreement.
Support for an agreement is not restricted to consent to foreign mediation offers, but there is also an increased readiness on both sides to cessation of mutual violence. A poll conducted in November by the Palestinian Center for Surveys and Research indicates that 76% support cessation of violence whereas in August the number was merely 48% even though it referred only to a gradual cease-fire.
Just as the data on mutual support of violence points at the obstinacy of both people and their resolve not to give in, their support in the various solutions and cease-fire proposals is a sign of their weariness of this obstinacy.
In other words, both people say, "we will obstinately continue to hold our own and struggle until the other side breaks, any minute now. Let us wait for this moment and in the meantime if by chance an offer for a way out of this obstinacy will arise, we will embrace it and express our readiness to make concession to enable such an agreement".
The conclusion drawn is that both tormented people do not lack the will for peace and mutual agreement but lack the leaders capable of fulfilling this will by a fair and acceptable political agreement.
Sharon has resumed his role as leader of the Likud, a fact that hints to the continuation of the status quo since his election. His Labor Party rival, Amram Mitzna whose candidacy for Prime Minister brought with it hopes with his brave plan to end the monstrous occupation that torments the conscious of Israelis.
If there is still hope, in spite of this gloomy vision, it is embodied in the fact that both people will eventually become weary. As the weariness grows so will the readiness for reconciliation and mutual agreement, and until then, destruction, oppression and suffering will reign supreme.