Peace Unlikely Anytime Soon

The whole world is going crazy in a media frenzy over the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

peace-israel-palestineTzipi Livni from Israel and Saeb Erekat representing the Palestinians are meeting in Washington, DC. It represents the first time the sides have held talks since 2010. The new meetings developed after Secretary of State John Kerry visited the region more than six times in 2013.

Kerry is apparently ready to invest most of his political career and precious time on restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been more than frozen since the Palestinians declined the offer made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Back then the Palestinians refused, as they assumed a better deal could be reached with a more pro-Palestinian leader than President George W. Bush.

Not since John Baker has an American secretary of state tried so much to restart peace talks. In 1993 Baker’s efforts concluded with the Oslo Accords, in which Israel and the PLO for the first time recognized each other as negotiating partners.

John Kerry deserves praise for his persistence, but based on a realistic assessment nothing points to the fact that his project will succeed, and another breakdown might make matters even worse.

The same thing happened back in 2000, when former US President Bill Clinton came closer than ever to a deal between the struggling parties. Yet, the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat returned home from Camp David and declared that Israel, despite many concessions, never really showed an interest in peace. After that the world saw another intifada, terror and violence, which claimed the lives of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians.

The same thing might happen again, as the current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has no public mandate and backing to make a peace deal with Israel.

That is why it is fair to ask why Kerry specifically is using so much energy on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, while the rest of the Middle East is in turmoil?

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More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria; Egypt is on the brink of chaos with daily clashes and casualties; the Iranian clergy are still pursuing the nuclear option; Iraq seems ready for another civil war; and the entire Middle East could see itself in a conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

Has Kerry become the latest one to suffer of the illusion that an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict holds the key to peace in the Middle East?

The European Union has not made it easier for Kerry. The Union of 28 countries has decided to boycott Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The decision seems unwise, as it does not coincide with International jurisdiction, as the Union claims.

The EU does not present the same demands, when it comes to the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus. There are many border disputes around the world, on which the EU never takes a stand. The new decision by the Union is very selective, and it might make a possible success for Kerry even more difficult. The Palestinians might feel tempted to make unrealistic demands on behalf the Israelis, now that they see that Europe is backing them.

During this new round of negotiations, all issues are on the table including the status of Jerusalem, refugees and final borders between the two parties. The Americans have said that the current window of opportunity ends nine months from now.

A lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, based on a two-state solution, will only be possible when the Arab world abandons the dream to remove Israel from the map. Nothing points to this development any time soon.

David Jano earned his Master’s degree in Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Southern Denmark. He is an expert on Israeli politics, society and culture, and has contributed to Danish television, radio and various written Danish Media. Read other articles by David.