Kerry’s Mideast peace dream has ended

The U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is currently confronting the biggest failure of his life

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Martin Indyk, who knows Israel well, is currently confronting the biggest failure of his life. If he can’t address this failure, then no peace can be expected between the Palestinians and the Israelis at this point.

With such an end predicted, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s project died before seeing the light and all he has received in return for his efforts is a spate of insults from Israeli ministers and extremists.

Israel even refused to make a small “concession” and implement its commitment of releasing prisoners as agreed in the Oslo peace accords. Indyk, and his chief Kerry, failed to convince the Israelis to implement this small condition and the project was thus postponed until the conditions are appropriate.

Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian authority, has done well in political duels although his rivals accuse him of being a couch potato because he is not as active as his predecessor Yasser Arafat, who never rested even at the hospital bed in Paris.

A bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates alone will not ensure the success of a peace process. Most peace projects are achieved through extraordinary conditions. Late Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat realized that then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir would not accept peace unless she was forced. The Camp David Accords was the product of a tough peace process and it was only attained thanks to the October 1973 War. If the Egyptians hadn’t succeeded at crossing the Suez Canal, Israel’s current map would have included the entirety of Gaza and the West Bank and current negotiations would have focused on organizing navigation paths in the Suez canal.

The next move

So, do the Palestinians have to resort to violence to force Israelis to negotiate and accept a Palestinian state? Of course not, because there’s no balance of power - it’s like the elephant and the ant. Armed groups in Gaza are mostly controlled by foreign parties like Iran, which wants to force Israel to accept its nuclear program and to recognize it as an influential country in the region. Iran has used Hezbollah and Palestinian factions to achieve this end. Israel, which is capable of eliminating those factions, launched battles against Gaza just to clip their wings and keep them active enough to deepen the inter-Palestinian dispute.

These are tough days for everyone. Israel has proven that it is an extremist and theocratic state. Civil forces failed to curb its religious aspirations

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

For the Palestinians, alternatives are few and difficult. One of them is what President Abbas intends to do and that is to trigger a diplomatic war by seeking membership in international organizations. This could lead Israel into launching a military campaign, under any excuse, to bring the West Bank under formal occupation and to overthrow Abbas’ government by besieging it. The truth is, Abbas doesn’t have any other choice. International organizations’ recognition of the Palestinian Authority theoretically makes it a comprehensive legitimate entity that enjoys international rights to protection. Realistically speaking, however, it does not guarantee ending the dispute and establishing the aspired for, sovereign, Palestinian state.

Tough days

These are tough days for everyone. Israel has proven that it is an extremist and theocratic state. Civil forces failed to curb its religious aspirations and this will lead towards further disputes. The struggle will not die because Israel decided to dismiss Kerry’s peace plan and other previous plsnd. The cause won’t be resolved as long as there are millions of Palestinians besieged in their country and millions of others displaced across the world.

Israel has tried to nibble at the West Bank for 50 years, but it failed. Now it’s become a semi-state and its population increased from 600,000 in 1967 to 2.6 million today. The bite is now too big for Israel to swallow without jeopardizing its entire entity. Of course, the population factor is a double-edged sword as it’s also a burden on the Palestinian government. The American government is threatening to cut its aid, worth of $400 million, if the Palestinian Authority uses the weapon of joining international organizations before reaching a peace agreement! This is a soft war in which the weapons are money and diplomacy and President Abbas must prepare his citizens for the worst if he plans to engage in it.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 7, 2014.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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