A conversation in Ramallah

In a leisurely conversation in Ramallah one recent evening, a well-connected friend spoke about Gaza now, and Lebanon from the mid-1970s until the Israeli thrust up to Beirut in 1982 — which resulted in the re-location of PLO leader Yasser Arafat and many of his fighters, and the Sabra and Shatila massacres soon after that evacuation.

Painful memories were evoked — the siege of Tel az-Zaatar, where gradually water was cut off until only one line with a tap was left working in an exposed area, around which were Phalangist snipers. Families with many children were asked to chose to volunteer one of them for the next foray to try to bring back some water.

Then. he recalled sadly, the situation was nearly reversed when the Palestinians entered Christian areas of Dammour. He expressed revulsion, and shook his head.

Now, he said: What will happen now in Gaza and in the region is that America is going to impose a solution.

Everybody else is only a minor player, he said — including Israel. The solution will be based on American interests, and American interests alone.

This includes, but is not limited to, control of the oil in the Arabian peninsula, Persian Gulf — and in Iran, he said.

Until that plan is elaborated and imposed, he predicted, there will be more of the same: post-cease-fire skirmishes, a flurry of speculation about negotiations on this and that — but no relief in Gaza.

Gradually, I realized that he really believes this.

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