Friday, March 25, 2011

Wake-up call from Jerusalem

As revolutionary movements are sweeping the Arab world with a varying degree of success, the recent bomb attack on a bus in Jerusalem reminded the world that the conflict between Israel and Palestine is still very much alive. For people in Jerusalem, it was a disturbing message that they are not safe from such attacks, despite the relative calm that the city has experienced during the past few years. No one has so far assumed responsibility for Monday's attack, which killed a Scottish missionary and wounded around 50. One of the usual suspects, Islamic Jihad, claims it was not their job, but praised the attack.

Whoever was behind it, the event may be part of a resurgence in violence. Most likely it is not a coincidence that it happened right after an increase in tensions on the Gaza strip, with rockets flying in both directions across the border. The increase in violence there and the awful recent attack in one of Israel's settlements on the West Bank could easily spread bringing more violence to Jerusalem and other cities as tensions are growing. The peace process seems to be going nowhere, so there is every reason to be pessimistic about the situation. And with Netanyahu's stated "iron will" to "to defend the state and its citizens", there seems to be little room for rapprochement, despite Palestinian PM Fayyad's condemnation of the attack.

The Arab spring may quickly turn the conflict into an even uglier situation. We hope it will not, but unfortunately this region is a testatement not only to what successes hope may bring, but also to what disappointments.

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