Mar 19,2019 – JORDAN TIMES – SAMIA KARBATI
Little, if anything, has been revealed about the Trump administration’s peace plan for the Middle East, except the occasional statement that it is “soon to be released”. The new release date is now scheduled for sometime after the Israeli elections take place on April 9.
Observing the history of the peace process over the years and considering the current landscape of the region, however, suggests that there is precious little evidence that a peace accord between the Palestinians and the Israelis will be attained anytime in the near future.
For starters, it is not difficult to spot the inconsistencies of a sequence of pronouncements coming out from the US administration that ultimately tilt towards serving Israel’s interests only. Then there is the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is an ardent supporter of illegal Israeli settlements.
The relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last year left troubling implications. Beyond the achievement of stoking a strong sense of unease, this manoeuvre is also intrinsically at odds with the role of an even-handed peace broker. There is great concern now that the deal will represent a significant departure from the international consensus regarding legitimate Palestinian rights.
On that score, one can be forgiven for not being able to see how we are gearing up for a crucial turning point to brokering a peace deal.
All the while and unsurprisingly, Israel’s unrestrained acquisition of Palestinian land, including the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, precludes the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
On another level, as the Israeli elections approach, conspicuously missing from the campaign rhetoric is any robust debate about advancing the cause of peace. As Israeli politics has significantly moved more to the right over the past few years, the distinctions between the main political parties has become less obvious. With the proponents of peace in retreat, and the detractors forming the majority, the Israeli candidates are shying away from tackling the weightier issue of resolving the perennial problem of Palestinian-Israeli relations.
Likewise, the sitting prime minister is delivering arguably hostile and raw rhetoric towards the Arab population in Israel to gain political advantage. He is also indulging in the notion that Israel can consolidate its relations with the rest of the Arab world and still circumvent Palestinian statehood. He bases this assumption on the notion that Arab states share Israel’s alarm over Iranian encroachment in the region and are, therefore, willing to overlook the Palestinian issue. But this is unlikely to succeed.
The continuation of the status quo and maintaining a strategy of procrastination by Israel feeds the undercurrent of discontent in the region. This conflict simply occupies a significant space in the Arab psyche. No Arab state can acquiesce to Israel’s vision of a relationship that shelves the Palestinian right to a sovereign state.
Expounding on this very same issue, former Israeli military chiefs often warned against the ramifications of Israel’s current policies and the continuation of an illegal occupation.
In other words, contingent on building solid and durable alliances and promoting the essence of regional cooperation with its neighbours, Israel needs to think beyond merely managing an over 50-year occupation of the Palestinian people. Continuing to do so not only serves to perpetuate and sustain the antagonistic nature of this conflict, it also challenges Israel’s claim that it is the only democracy in the region. Carrying on with an occupation and resorting to a wide range of discriminatory policies against the Palestinians are inimical to democratic credentials. Moreover, and with no realistic destination, many would concur that Israel is inflicting upon itself a one-state solution reality.
Only time will tell whether or not the Israeli elections will usher in a new government. Preferably, one that will possess a progressive regional perspective capable of marshalling coalition partners to broker a peace deal.
Perhaps if Israel had cultivated the Arab Peace Initiative, an attempt put forth in 2002 by the Arab states to end this conflict, we could have avoided the current charged atmosphere that surrounds this conflict.
If the intention of the new Middle East peace plan is to instigate a new way forward and expand the zone of peace and prosperity in the region, then the contents of the deal that is often referred to as the “ultimate deal”, must demonstrably advance the interests of all parties to the conflict. Attaining a durable peace accord is contingent on adopting a serious and lucid foreign policy. Anything less will virtually guarantee this stifling political deadlock.
The writer is a former employee of the Jordan Information Bureau at the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, DC. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times