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Putting peace on hold
A rare chance for Middle East peace is slipping away, said The New York Times, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspends talks with Israel over a crackdown in Gaza. The peace process doesn't stand much chance, anyway, said Con Coughlin in the London
W
hat happened
Israeli forces began pulling out of northern Gaza on Monday after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended peace talks to protest the military offensive into Palestinian territory. At least 110 Palestinians have died since Israel’s military attacked in an attempt to stop Palestinian militants from firing rockets into Israel. (CNN)

What the commentators said
A rare chance for peace is slipping away, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). “For the first time, an Israeli leader and a Palestinian leader seem genuinely committed to peace. They set a deadline for a deal by year’s end.” But there’s little hope of a two-state solution if key Arab states don’t help Abbas and his “weak” security apparatus stop Hamas’ rocket attacks into Israel, and if Israel hardliners aren’t convinced that a “sustained ground assault on Gaza” is not the best way to protect the Israeli people in the long run.

“Israel's long-term solution lies in fully recognizing its post-1967 error of occupying portions of the West Bank,” said The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial. “Ending Jewish settlement of Palestinian land would be a first step toward curbing not only Hamas's rockets but also Arab and Iranian enthusiasm to someday use large missiles on the Jewish state.” And Israel’s restraint will also “give it moral strength to find a solution and avoid Hamas's trap of forcing an overreaction. Islamic radicals cannot be handed the high road.”

Abbas, true to form, took the “easy option” when confronted with this crisis, said Con Coughlin in the London Telegraph. Instead of confronting the real problem—Hamas’ rockets—he stopped talking to Israel “in protest at its uncompromising military response to those attacks,” and “made no effort to prevent Hamas launching its rockets indiscriminately at Israeli settlements.” If Abbas is “incapable of providing the Palestinians with the strong and courageous leadership,” there isn’t much chance he can “deliver” a peace deal, anyway.

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