Efforts to Salvage Peace Negotiations

  • 28 August 2013

Once again, serious challenges threaten Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations after their resumption following efforts made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who succeeded in bringing the two sides back to the negotiating table after the suspension of talks in 2010. However, the cancellation of a session for negotiations, that was scheduled to take place in Jericho on Monday, clearly indicates the deep-seated problems exacerbated by Israel’s recent killing of three young Palestinians in the Qalandia refugee camp near Jerusalem. This was followed by announcements of Israel’s new settlement plans in West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh called upon the US administration to “take quick and serious steps” and intervene now to thwart the collapse of negotiations. This reflects Palestinian concerns over Israeli practices and how far the Netanyahu government will go to avoid fulfilling its responsibilities toward the peace process. The United Nations special envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry warned few days ago that Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations may fail. On Monday Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said that the “murderous Israeli practices” against the Palestinians will undermine and reduce any chances of success of these negotiations.

Such statements undoubtedly reflect a deep awareness of the impact of the failure of the current negotiations, especially in light of the rapid developments taking place across the Middle East. Suspension of negotiations could entail serious implications because it gives the forces of extremism and violence the opportunity to justify their distorted interpretations. This would also weaken the forces of moderation and coexistence, which might find themselves in an awkward position, unable to voice their opinion or justify their actions.

Moreover, any procrastination in current negotiations will further complicate the problems and narrow the chances of any agreement that satisfies both parties, and meets the references of the Madrid Conference of 1991, which is based on the land-for-peace principle and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders. No process of negotiations between Israel and Palestinians will ever achieve success without effective support by international actors who must put more pressure on Israel to comply with the requirements of peace and abide by its commitments.

Over the years, successive Israeli governments have used different methods to evade compliance with peace obligations and have tried to strip the peace process of its contents and replace it with false conditions so that references to the provisions of the peace process are circumvented. To avoid the collapse of current negotiations, experience of recent years should be taken into account, which shows that Israel has its own perception of peace that is not in line with the legitimate Palestinian rights or resolutions of international legitimacy. It is hence time for real intervention to exert more pressure on the Netanyahu government to ensure that the current opportunity for peace is not frittered away.