11 October 2009

Northern Ireland as a model for Israeli-Palestinian peace?

Whatever people think (and say) about Guardians' CiF (Comment is Free), it remains a good source of entertainment. Today, for example, I have stumbled on an article Middle East: a Belgian solution? by a Belgian contributor Khaled Diab.

The article offers two models for solution of our crisis: Northern Ireland, which is discussed rather briefly and Belgium, the subject in which the author feels rather better informed (and justifiably so). Unfortunately, I got stuck at the beginning of the article, upon reading this statement:

While I have expressed scepticism vis-à-vis Mitchell's chances of success – because the shift in US foreign policy has been mainly rhetorical, the Israeli position has hardened and the Palestinians are in disarray – there are certainly lessons to be learnt from Northern Ireland.
Even if I were searching for something to gast my flabber on purpose, I couldn't have come up with anything better.

Let me recount the story of Six Counties briefly: forcible eviction of local landowners, settlement by "imported" population of a different religious persuasion, 400 or so years of slow mutual bloodletting and, eventually, an enforced uneasy peace.

Granting that some people on both sides of Middle Eastern divide will willingly sign up for another three or four hundred years of conflict, seeing how it empowers them, I am not sure that Mr Diab has employed sufficient analytical abilities when he recommended the NI model.

The point is that this model ended in the occupying power (UK) remaining the occupying power, the settlers remaining the settlers and the Irish nation still split between the two countries.

I seriously doubt that this is what the author had in mind...