Can you only make peace in private?

Moving to the centre isn’t usually my cup of political tea, but in a peace process it seems pretty fundamental. Of course, when you have two fairly fundamentalist sides opposing each other, this is pretty unlikely! Reading Ken Livingstone’s interview with de-facto Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal (pictured), I couldn’t but hope that there are private moves to soften their attitude.

Meshal’s reconstruction of past events, and his narrative of European colonialism and racism, is enlightening and instructive. But he has to move past this, past his anger at dispossession, and past Hamas’ refusal to admit Israel’s right to exist. It’s all very well playing the underdog, saying that Israel needs to make 10 groundbreaking moves to the centre before he makes even one. But it won’t exactly broker peace, or do much to help the Palestinian people!

It reminds me of an excellent South African apartheid episode of the Radio 4 programme The Reunion. Years of racist oppression and violent struggle were ended by secret dialogue. Fundamentalisms were relaxed, pains gradually healed and common ground found through discussion away from the public eye.

The best, it seems, that we can hope for Palestinian and Israeli peace, is that their leadership are undertaking similar steps in secret.