The Risk of Obstacles in Peace Process

  • 17 November 2009

The failure of American and international efforts to convince Israel on giving up its settlement policy has put the Middle East peace process in a quandary. This is also the main obstacle to the resumption of talks between Palestinians and Israel. Making things worse is Benjamin Netanyahu government’s refusal to heed to international demand for the resumption of dialogue unless in accordance with its own conditions.

These circumstances are not creating the right atmosphere for fair, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region. Meanwhile the Israeli government is continuing its heavy handed approach taking steps that hinder peace. Israel’s Infrastructure Minister, Uzi Landau, recently threatened the Palestinian authority that the Israeli army will reoccupy areas in West Bank, which is under the authority’s control, if a unilateral move is made to announce a Palestinian state.

Such roadblocks to peace process endanger security and stability of the entire region due to several factors. Firstly, the Israeli government’s refusal to pay heed to the stand taken by the international community endangers the peace process even before negotiations kick off. At the same time it is rapidly moving on its West Bank settlement plans and is implementing schemes to Judaize the city of Jerusalem, seeking to change its Arab character. All these are efforts to impose a fait accompli on Palestinians and Arabs, things that will be difficult to change even if the peace process gets underway. Israel  is also disregarding Land for Peace – the principal reference to peace process since the Madrid Conference – and is forcing a new reference based on “Normalization for Peace.”

On the other hand, uncertainty surrounding the peace process gives forces of extremism, who do not believe in peaceful coexistence, the opportunity to promote their destructive ideas thereby bringing the entire region to the brink of disaster. At the same time, it is a matter of embarrassment for the forces of moderation in the region who consider peace as the only path to security and stability.

Resumption of negotiations, in accordance with the references laid down by international charters and conventions, is the only way to save the region from the current stalemate that looms on the horizon. This can be achieved only through international pressure on Israel to ensure that it gives up its intransigent policies that are complicating things and preventing a solution.

At the same time, the various Palestinian forces should now, more than ever, work to achieve comprehensive reconciliation in national interest. Only this can ensure that Israel doesn’t use these divisions as an opportunity to further its agenda. It realizes that the division in the Palestinian ranks will benefit Israel and will, like several other factors, hinder international efforts for the resumption of peace negotiations.