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War and Peace

War and PeaceThough the Israeli-Palestinian conflict intensified during a weekend of bloody clashes, a Tufts expert says history shows past "low points" led to peace agreements. Jerusalem.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.01.02] This weekend brought an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian fighting, as both sides took increasingly bold actions in the ongoing conflict. Two Palestinian suicide bombers attacked targets just hours after the Israeli army invaded Yasser Arafat's compound. By Sunday night, Israel had declared war. Though many analysts believe the increased violence makes peace nearly impossible, an expert at Tufts says history indicates otherwise.

Citing a similarly tense situation in 1973 -- when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel - Tufts' Jeswald Salacuse told the Associated Press that the escalation in violence was an impetus for the Camp David peace talks that generated the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt still in effect today.

"The 1973 war looked like a definite nadir [low point], yet out of that emerged a peace treaty," said Salacuse, an expert on international negotiation and conflict resolution at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

The low points, at least according to the history books, have "provided an opportunity for edging forward toward peace," reported the international news service.

The current situation in Israel follows a familiar cycle.

"It's unfortunately been a history of fights and talks, fights and talks," he told the AP. "Hopefully, we can make it talk and not fight in the future."

The United States, said Salacuse, can play an important role in establishing a peace process.

"According to Salacuse, ... the most important first step for the United States to take is to promote a broad vision of coexistence in the Middle East," reported the AP.

U.S. involvement could be the key to restoring the negotiations.

"There is no question we need to stay involved," he told AP. "Once you start to have a new vision of what the future will be, I think you get some movement. The vision part of it is important. That's what gets people to sit at a table to negotiate."

For now, the U.S. will continue calling on both sides to end the violence, said State Department spokesman and Tufts graduate Richard Boucher.

"We don't control every event on the ground, that's certainly clear," he said. "But people do listen to the United States."

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