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November 20, 2012

Area experts have grim hope for Gaza

Local observers seenew twists in old feud


“The closest they’ve come in 20 years has been with the Oslo peace talk back in the mid-’90s,” he said.

“What really helped there was you had the Norwegian government and the Clinton White House stepping in to act as mediators.”

But the situation now also is more complicated than it was back then, Roberts said.

“You know Iran is involved with a lot of this (violence) behind the scenes, and with Syria being in disarray – and God knows what will happen with Jordan next – the whole area is just a powder keg,” he said. “It’s a different environment than it used to be. It’s not just Israel anymore and the Palestinians.”

The United States has been taking a cautious approach toward the crisis, Heindl said.

“U.S. officials “have issued a couple of statements, and they’ve clearly put the onus on Hamas to back down,” Heindl said. “They’ve said it’s Hamas that needs to stop firing rockets.”

But the U.S. also hasn’t brought the issue before the U.N. Security Council, either, he said.

For now, mediation is largely in the hands of Egypt and its new president, Mohammed Morsi.

“Egypt is trying to live up to their agreement of the Camp David accords, and Morsi ... is trying to be a good guy,” Roberts said.

Heindl agreed that part of the reason for America’s arms-length position that may be friction between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I think that does kind of play a role in that somewhere,” Heindl said, adding, “They clearly don’t like each other very much.”

Roberts, too, acknowledged the rift with Obama.

“I don’t think Netanyahu particularly relates to him,” he said, adding that while he voted to Obama, he thinks some past presidents were more supportive.

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