Israel: December 23, 2003


 With the security fence construction continuing and Israel threatening to consider the fence the de facto border, and Egyptian diplomats pushing the Palestinians to crack down on their radicals and take the peace deal Israel offered three years ago, Palestinian public opinion is more accepting of a peace deal. The security fence now reaches from northern Israel to Jerusalem and is working. Terror related deaths are down by more than half. Some Palestinians believe that the terrorists have joined a cease fire, but the Palestinian radical groups say this is not so. What they don't say is that the Israeli security measures are increasingly effective, halting terrorist attacks before they can be carried out. The Israeli government, which has strong support from conservative parties that advocate annexing all or most of the West Bank, has convinced the settler groups that these annexations would be impractical. Israel would not get away with expelling the Arab populations to neighboring Arab countries and to leave those populations within an expanded Israel would, within a few decades, make Arabs the majority population of Israel. Even now, non-Jews (mostly Arabs) make up 19 percent of the Israeli population. So now the Israeli government is seriously considering withdrawing some of the settlements. But the Palestinians want all the settlements gone. If there's going to be a peace deal, it will be, like most such arrangements in the region, an imperfect one.


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