Peace of the Brave

“Every change has its risks, but the time has come to take a chance for peace,” Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told his ministers, urging a historical solution to the violent eruptions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel’s cabinet agreed to grant political autonomy to Palestinians in the now-occupied West Bank town of Jerico and the Gaza Strip this week.

Although the U.S. has maintained a nearly unwavering pro-Israeli stance throughout history, violence among Palestinians and Israelis is far from a black and white issue.

America’s Christian roots, Jewish-American influence and our economic interests in the Middle East have created the strong U.S. support for a Zionist state. The areas in question, however, bear no Biblical significance for Israel, allowing them to finally concede their occupation of the area.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied the territories. The result since then has been bloodshed and division of the nation.

The move, to begin in six months, will drastically change the lives of approximately 5.5 million Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians, particularly the 1.7 million now living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This is a chance for Secretary of State Warren Christopher and the Clinton Administration to shine in the first significant, positive step for foreign affairs since Clinton’s inauguration. While Christopher was not the major factor in the peace talks, his presence can make a difference now.

The U.S. should continue to play a major and more unbiased role in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Both players have checkered pasts, from the terrorist activities of the PLO to the mistreatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israel. Now perhaps the U.S. can work with nations in the Middle East on a more equal footing.