The question that was raised in the past few months, can Arabs and Israelis sit back again and negotiate to put final touches on the two-state solution, or will it end up with one state at the expense of other Arab countries that received an influx of Palestinian refugees since 1948?
To end the 70-year-old conflict, regional and international players should be effectively engaged to resolve this conflict without giving the chance for extremists to find a leeway to turn their activities within certain communities to trespass borders, exacerbate Middle Eastern peace and vex international solidarity and stability.
Israel calls for further security guarantees to ensure that no future wars between Israel on one hand, and the Palestinians and Arabs would break out. Russia has the aptitudes to successfully bring both parties to talks to settle their issues and end the long-standing conflictShehab Al-Makahleh
The Middle East is divided into two camps: pro-West and pro-Russia. Though the number of Arab states, which are allies to the US and its Western partners, outnumber those in a strategic relationship with Russia, this does not belittle the significance of Russian presence in the Middle East as a key player along with the US.
Once Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that there should be a regional agreement before a peace deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis is realised. This is a very central point to ruminate, as it is vital, symptomatic, revealing and indicative that Tel Aviv will not accept any covenant with the Palestinians without a regional settlement first. In other words, Israelis deem their national security as an imperative and a must regardless of others’ concerns.
The US and its Western allies have tried to bring both parties, the Palestinians and the Israelis, back to talks to finalise a pact that ends the seven-decade-old conflict, but failed. This is simply because the Western allies were biased towards one party. To be an honest broker, this helps to resolve the impasse, without the whole region sliding into futile wars. The current situation means opening the door wide to extremists who will benefit from the vacuum that may result from the dispute over the future of a Palestinian state or its proposed form.
The European Union (EU) had been playing a focal role in the past before both Israelis and Palestinians accused the EU of being jaundiced. Sometimes, the union was blamed for lacking the clout to resolve the real causes of the conflict.
Since the Israelis are not willing to relinquish the West Bank, which the Palestinians and Arabs have been struggling for over 50 years to regain along with East Jerusalem, the only way out is to get those involved in the creation of an Israeli state in the solution of the lingering dispute: France, the UK and Russia to achieve the final settlement. Since the European countries are having their own international issues, the other partner, which can handle the final status of the Palestinian-Israeli agreement, would be Russia for various reasons.
Russia as an honest broker
Israel calls for further security guarantees to ensure that no future wars between Israel on one hand and the Palestinians and Arabs would break out; Russia has the aptitudes to successfully bring both parties to talks to settle their issues and end the long-standing conflict.
Tel Aviv is currently asking the international communities for these assurances. At present, neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are keen on discussing their issues as both accuse each other of inciting an upsurge of violence. As Palestinians lost confidence in old peace partners, the only honest broker left for both Israelis and Palestinians are the Russians as they have very good ties with Israelis and Palestinians as well as other key regional players.
Russia is keen on Israel’s national security interests because Moscow is seeking to end this protracted conflict, which has become another nightmare for Russians after Moscow has almost managed to defuse tension and terrorism in Syria. If the Palestinian issue is not resolved, this would create an atmosphere for extremism and cross-border terrorism.
Since Russia is closer to the Middle East than the EU and the US geographically and culturally, it is in Russia’s interest to seek with all parties concerned a comprehensive and speedy solution because, in one way or another, the war in the Middle East would lead to an explosion in the region militarily, a threat to Israeli, Palestinian, Middle Eastern and international security.
Thousands of Russian Jews left the Soviet Union after the demise of the communist regime because many of them found life in the former union very difficult for them. By then, Israel offered them better opportunities to live. Today there are a large number of Russian Jews and other Jews from other republics of the Soviet Union who live in Israel.
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Since President Vladimir Putin came to power, he has sought better relations with Israel. Over the years, there have been many official visits: several Israeli prime ministers have visited Russia and President Putin and other Russian officials have visited Israel on numerous occasions.
As Russia has good relations with the Palestinians, like other countries in the region, Moscow can work with Washington to ensure stability in the turbulent Mideast because of Russia’s fear that extremism will spill over into its backyard. Superpowers are known for their building on contradictions to realize a reality. This has been the issue with the Palestinian cause.
Both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides today need to return to the negotiations with full support of the two superpowers because the present moment is existential for the Palestinians; the time factor is not in their favor; the status quo is not in Israel’s favor; the risk of sparking extremism and terrorism on a larger scale to fill the vacuum is against international peace and stability. Thus, it is either act to resolve the pending issues or the whole region will be once again in quagmire and anarchy.
The Israelis and Palestinians have been in a logjam for too long and something has to change. The existing state of affairs is untenable, not only for the Israelis but also for the Palestinians as well to some extent. They both have to return to the negotiations table to ensure their nations live in peace, security and stability and not to permit for extremists to build on these loopholes to act on behalf of both governments.
Russia sounds to be an enthusiastic partner to broker a deal. Yet, the warring sides have to be ready to thaw the freezing channels and to stop accusing one another of enticing security problems for the other because both Palestinians and Israelis are experiencing existential moments and threats. Will a two-state solution wok out, the answer could come from Moscow.
Shehab Al-Makahleh is Director of Geostrategic Media Center, senior media and political analyst in the Middle East, adviser to many international consultancies. He can be reached at: @shehabmakahleh and @Geostrat_ME.