Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Sunday, Dec. 3
The Indiana Daily Student


Mideast peace summit begins

Community reacts to unrest, violence between Israelis, Palestinians

As Israel and Palestine enter today's peace summit in Egypt, unstable leadership and outcry over violence are some of the issues clouding chances of a permanent peace accord.\nIliya Harik, a political science professor who specializes in Middle East politics, said before either side can make significant progress at the bargaining table, they must agree to stop the violence that has plagued the area for the past 18 days. The fighting has claimed nearly 100 lives and the summit, which will include leaders from the United States, Egypt, Jordan and the United Nations, only came about after intense pressure to negotiate a cease-fire, according to The Associated Press. \nProtests and vigils speaking out against the violence in the Middle East have been staged throughout the United States by Israeli, Palestinian and bi-partisan groups. A vigil at the Sample Gates on the edge of campus drew about 100 people Friday.\nThe vigil, which included the reading of names of all lives claimed in the current conflict, an analysis of the events leading up to now and poetry readings, was sponsored by the Committee for Peace in the Middle East. Member and graduate student Phil Metres, said the group has been around since the '80s but has only enjoyed greater student participation in the last few years.\n"I think our group believes the violence should stop," Metres said. "One of the most important facts is that we should think about the violence not simply in terms of stone throwing but in terms of the situation in which Palestinians live."\nMetres said the group tries to present a perspective calling for peace and a resolvement of conflicts that brings justice to the people of both groups, not necessarily to the satisfaction of an official state position. Specifically, the group wants peace for all people in the Middle East.\n"We feel like this represents a perspective that both Jews and Palestinians hold in common," he said. \nThe group is planning a march Tuesday.\n"Of course, the first important issue is the stopping of hostilities," Harik said. "The Palestinians insist there should be an international committee to investigate the violence, who started it and how it was carried out by the Israelis, particularly the shooting of live bullets at unarmed youngsters."\nAt the summit today, Harik said he expects Palestinians to favor an investigation by an international committee. Harik said Israel is calling for a local investigation by Israel, Palestians and possibly another Middle Eastern country.\n"The Palestinians, because of enormous losses in human lives are not going to just turn their backs and say 'let's forget about what happened.' They will want to assign responsibility and make sure this will not happen in the future," he said. "The Israelis are trying to push their point that Arafat is responsible for starting the whole thing."\nThe Palestinians want an end of Israeli military attacks on Palestinians, a lifting of the closure of Palestinian areas that restrict movements and a pullback of Israel heavy weaponry from the outskirts of Palestinian towns, according to The Associated Press.\nThe most contentious Palestinian demand is for an international commission to investigate the violence -- Israel says it will only accept a delegation led by the United States. \nBarak, meanwhile, is looking for a halt to Palestinian attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians and the re-arrest of extremists from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements who were released this past week. He is also calling for the Palestinian media to stop its calls for further attacks against Israel, according to The Associated Press. \nMediators will try to ensure that the violence doesn't overshadow peace discussions. Harik said this will be difficult due to problems in leadership for Israel, the Palestinians and for the mediators.\n"It's a very bad time for major action," Harik said. "At the present time, the U.S. president, who plays the most important mediating role, is a lame-duck president and for the next six months, it's going to look like that."\nHarik said the greatest hope one can have for the negotiations is a truce that permits eventual progress. \n"I think a permanent peace accord should be possible," he said. "There are international guidelines and laws about war and occupation and enough parties are interested in this. \n"Palestinians are not alone. All Arab countries and all Islamic countries are behind them and if anything happens to them that is too extreme there will be a lot of reaction from countries in Asia and Africa," Harik said. \nThe Associated Press contributed to this article.

Get stories like this in your inbox