Pope Francis should have learned in his visit last week to the West Bank and then to Jerusalem that praying for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is like talking to a wall. But he’s not one to give up easily, so he invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the Vatican on June 8 to seek divine intervention.
That may be the best hope for peace, and that’s a very sad commentary.
President Barack Obama never mentioned Mideast peace once in his 5,000-plus word commencement speech on foreign policy at West Point the other day, a sure sign that his administration has given up on brokering a peace deal between two unwilling and uninterested leaders.
I'm not talking about Peres; he’s very interested and willing, but he has no power. He had his chance and tried but didn't have a Palestinian partner. If he were in charge today -- and he'd love to be but he's 90 and his seven-year term as figurehead president expires this summer -- he still wouldn't have a partner.
Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are too weak, too afraid to take risks, and too disinterested.
They’re more interested in West Bank settlements, not a peace settlement. Netanyahu likes building them because they satisfy a powerful right wing constituency that opposes the two state agreement and they irritate the Palestinians (and most of the rest of the world), and Abbas likes that because settlement construction gives him an excuse not to take the negotiations seriously.
If the Pope wants to help he can pray for new elections in Israel and Palestine that will bring to power leaders with the courage, the imagination and the will to make peace.
Until then, peace doesn't have a prayer.
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