Will Israel Respond to Calls for Peace?

  • 12 December 2010

Several calls have been made in a very short period of time stressing the need to move the Middle East peace process forward. After meeting the Palestinian and Israeli officials on Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she will encourage both the parties to solve key issues that stand in the way of peace. She said that in the coming months the US will initiate a new round of negotiations aimed at achieving real progress on a peace framework. She said she will send special peace envoy George Mitchell to the region this week in an attempt to close the gap on essential issues, which have proved difficult to resolve. Another call came from European officials – amongst them six former leaders of the European Union – who recommended a more assertive approach in dealing with Israel. In their recent statements, they warned that if time is wasted and no swift steps are taken to stop the deterioration of the ground situation then the two-state solution as the only choice for a peaceful resolution to the conflict will become difficult to achieve.

Such calls are a result of the perception building over the possibility of catastrophic consequences on the security and stability of the Middle East and the rest of the world if the current Palestinian-Israeli impasse is allowed to continue. Experiences of recent years have shown that faltering of the peace process became one of the sources of regional tension and was used by forces of extremism and militancy in the region to promote their destructive ideology that reject efforts for peace. Such elements seek to perpetuate a culture of violence and raise questions whether Israel would comply with and give up its evasive position on peace as this is the main obstacle facing the resumption of dialog.

The attitude and policies of the Benjamin Netanyahu government in recent weeks and months have made it clear that it is not serious about negotiations and is only trying to gain time instead of adopting a clear agenda and taking initiatives to break the deadlock. It is also sticking to its impossible conditions for entering negotiations while it is fully aware that neither Palestinians nor Arabs will accept them. If Israel was truly in favor of peace then it should completely freeze the building of colonies. It is erroneous to continue settlement activities and an effort to Judaize Jerusalem while, at the same time, calling for the Palestinians to join in negotiations and express good intentions. It is important that Israel possesses the will for peace and abandons its method of dictating terms during negotiations. It must abandon its provocative actions that do not help in maintaining the region’s security and stability. The ball is now in Israel’s court and it has to prove that it really seeks peace and works for it. The country must prove that it is not just trying to gain time because this has already led to breakdown of talks in the past and was also the reason behind the failure of both direct as well as indirect negotiations.