Only 45 minutes from my home, in Annapolis, Maryland, leaders from Israel and Palestine, along with ministers from other states, will meet and begin their conference on the future of Palestine and Israel and the entire region. The expectations for this meeting are low, but the hope is that this will help jump start a new round of negotiations that will lead to a Palestinian state by 2009.
As usual, the Palestinians are the underdogs. The conversation will focus, as it always does, as to whether Israel will actually comply with international law and therefore end the occupation of territories it has conquered. Somehow, Palestinians are expected to make concessions and agree to relinquish control over territories that they have a right to, including parts of East Jerusalem and the entire old city.
Of course, the United States is not an honest peace partner. Especially during this current administration, they have unequivocally supported Israel even as it blatantly defies international law by expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank. Israel has been in violation of multiple UN resolutions for over 40 years, engaging in one of the longest running occupations in the world today. If it were Iraq, or maybe Iran, then this could mean war. But if you are our allies, then it is acceptable, and even encouraged.
The siege on Gaza continues. NGO’s and their aid have been blocked by Israel from reaching the people of Gaza, as the humanitarian crisis there continues to deteriorate. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and settlers make daily raids in the West Bank, terrorizing the people and often leading to the deaths of innocents. It happens so often that it is no longer ‘newsworthy’.
But I live in hope. Maybe the United States will stand on the side of justice. Maybe Israel will acknowledge that their security and a long term peace for the entire region are dependant on them complying with international law and ending illegal occupation. Maybe, for the first time in 40 years, these talks will finally lead to peace and justice for the Palestinian people. Let us pray.