Vermont Experts Discuss Middle East Crisis

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(Host) It will be difficult to break the cycle of escalating violence in the Middle East because of deepening mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians. That was the message last night on VPR’s Switchboard program.

Middlebury College Professor Walid Saleh said Israel could win peace and security by agreeing to a Palestinian state comprised of the occupied territories:

(Saleh) "And, it’s better for Israel, in a sense, to in this negotiation, to put a vision of a demilitarized Palestine, fully in a sense on the peace side, than having a process where the birth of a Palestine state is totally out of a liberation struggle in which the Palestinians feel no gratitude toward the Israelis."

(Host) Middlebury College Rabbi Ira Schiffer said the events and rhetoric of past months are an indication to Israelis that Palestinian leaders don’t want a peaceful solution to the Mideast crisis:

(Schiffer) "And from the Israeli perspective, the sense was that Palestine or Arafat was not willing to allow a Palestinian state to come in through a negotiated process and that he wanted a state to be born in blood."

(Host) Shiffer and Saleh said despite little progress made by Secretary of State Colin Powell when he visited the region this week, U.S. efforts are key to defusing the situation in the Mideast.

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