Palestine, Israel’s fight over Jerusalem hinders U.S. peace deal


The Bush administration has put all its eggs in one complicated political and humanitarian basket. Its legacy, while tainted with controversy, is filled with the ambition of spreading democracy to the Middle East. Regardless of the original reasons, or the first five excuses given, the mission in Iraq has been to establish stability for the region and to spread our own democratic values to the war-torn country.

Now, nearly five years into the Iraq mess, President Bush and his remaining staff seem to have shifted their target to another area of the Middle East – Israel and Palestine.

Last week, President Bush made serious strides in drafting a plan to create a Palestinian state. The question now: How possible is a peace resolution between two groups of people who have been trained to do nothing but kill each other for nearly a century?

National Public Radio reported on Oct. 18 the general terms of the peace settlement. First is the establishment of a Palestinian state – certainly not a new idea, but a difficult goal to achieve, because it creates the problem of which state would control Jerusalem.

Fans of “The West Wing” have been down this road before. Martin Sheen, playing President Bartlett, attempts to create peace between Israel and Palestine and succeeds. However, he only succeeds when they can agree on terms about Jerusalem.

The problem is we don’t live in a fictional series for which writers construct happy endings and breed hope for the future. The real world is haunted with a history of vengeance, murder and war. The only glimmer of hope, Egypt is supporting the United States through this peace initiative.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Oct. 17 Egypt has signed the peace conference. Egypt’s commitment runs deep enough; they are going to join Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visits King Abdullah II of Jordan. Rice believes Jordan and Egypt are essential to helping with this peace deal.

It is good to see this interesting shift in policy President Bush has developed ­- seeking the help of Middle East allies in regards to global security. If there is any consolation coming from our recent history, at least our government seems to be learning from past mistakes.

The only thing standing in the way of this deal are the Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians are excited for the idea of having their own state but seem troubled by Israel’s slow response.

Israel, on the other hand, wants more vague language in the peace deal. They are weary to sign anything endorsed by Egypt. Neither country seems willing to give up Jerusalem, making the path to peace a rocky one.

It is great the United States wants to promote peace throughout the Middle East, even with such a deficient leader at the helm. Simply put, our country can play a fundamental role in the process of establishing peace in the Middle East, but it can’t simply exert force on fundamentalists.

Kevin Phillips is a senior in legal communications. Please send comments to