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Analysts Examine Possibility for Middle East Peace


In 1967, Israel countered what it saw as a threat of annihilation by its neighbors and defeated three Arab armies in six days. As a result, Israel nearly tripled the terroritory under its control and began an occupation of land shared by Palestinian refugees. VOA's Sean Maroney reports from New York on what some analysts say needs to be done to bring peace to the region.

Forty years after the Six-Day War, a new obstacle is threatening the existence of a future Palestinian state.

The violent takeover of the Gaza Strip by the Islamic militant group Hamas recently has split the Palestinian government into two political camps. The moderate Fatah faction led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank wants to seek peace with Israel, and Hamas in Gaza is refusing to recognize Israel or renounce violence.

The international community led by the United States had cut off aid to the Hamas-led government since Hamas won the Parliament election last year. However, aid resumed this week after President Abbas formed a new emergency government without Hamas.

Robert Malley with the International Crisis Group says the international community should not tie the Palestinian president's hands with humanitarian aid.

"We should not be telling [Mr. Abbas], 'don't stop flirting with Hamas again,' because he's going to have to for his own good and the good of the peace process and stability," said Malley.

Dennis Ross is a Middle East expert with the Washington Institute. He says Hamas is ultimately responsible for international aid to the region.

"I support the idea that we should provide humanitarian assistance," he said. "We do not want to create a humanitarian disaster within Gaza, but whether there should be assistance above subsistence, or assistance that goes beyond humanitarian, that depends upon Hamas."

Ross, who was a special Middle East envoy in the Clinton administration, says Hamas' actions and stance toward Israel could lead to more violence.

"If rocket fire continues out of Gaza and hits Asdod, or worse because now they are smuggling in rockets that have a longer range, you start hitting Ashkelon, Israel doesn't have a choice - they go in to Gaza under those circumstances," said Ross.

He says that type of escalation could echo last year's violence between Israel and Lebanon.

Both the United States and Israel are backing Palestinian President Abbas in his political battle with Hamas. Beside Israel, the European Union and the United States also consider Hamas as a terrorist group.

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