The Middle East peace process is on “pause“.
According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States was blindsided by a Palestinian deal with a militant group that led to the suspension of Mideast peace talks, putting the Mideast peace process “on hold”, and thus making a deadline this week to keep the process going on “completely irrelevant”.
A US-imposed deadline for progress on Palestinian-Israel peace talks ran out last week after Israel pulled out of talks after Fatah announced it would seek to create a unity government with the Hamas group, which controls Gaza.
“We believe the best thing to do right now is pause, take a hard look at these things, and find out what is possible and what is not possible in the days ahead,” Kerry told reporters at a news conference in Addis Ababa.
In a closed-door meeting last week, Kerry reportedly warned world leaders that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid state” after these negotiations formally break down. Kerry later backtracked from the “apartheid” remark, saying different word would have been more appropriate.
Josh Ruebner, Policy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace, in an emailed interview with Arabian Gazette discussed on why the Kerry initiative to broker peace has failed.
According to Ruebner, “Kerry’s initiative to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace was foreordained to fail because it replicated the same patterns of previous botched U.S. efforts. Kerry relied upon a ‘peace process’ team chocked full of pro-Israel ideologues to attempt to foist on the Palestinians a non-sovereign entity. Far from constituting a state in any meaningful sense of the term, the U.S.-Israeli offer on the table would have kept this Palestinian entity under the complete control of Israel, with Israel annexing the vast majority of its illegal settlements and maintaining in place its infrastructure of military occupation, including the illegal apartheid wall.”
Ruebner added: “It’s clear that the discredited ‘peace process’ has finally run its course. Over more than two decades of futile negotiations, Israel has demonstrated conclusively that it prefers its ongoing, illegal colonization of Palestinian land over and above true Palestinian sovereignty over any portion of historic Palestine. With Secretary of State John Kerry having recognized the impending demise of the two-state paradigm for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue, now is the time for the United States to jettison its failed approach and think freshly and creatively about the requirements for a just and lasting peace based on human rights, international law, and equality rather than on Israel’s ongoing domination over the Palestinians.”
According to your approach, the two-state solution runs its course along with negotiations. What would be the alternative in your opinion?
If a negotiated two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue cannot be brokered, the only plausible alternative is for there to be one state with equal rights between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.
What are the chances for such solution in the congress? and would Obama stand firm and put pressure on Israel to comply or not?
I don’t think that the Obama administration will invest any more political capital on trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue and will kick the can down the road to its successor.
What do you think of the non-violent resistance that the PA has adopted a while ago?
Nonviolent resistance has been led by Palestinian civil society and is a highly effective way for Palestinians to dramatize their oppression at Israel’s hand to the world.
Do you think that the Arab peace initiative can be a practical alternative?
The Arab Peace Initiative is premised on the two-state resolution, which even Secretary of State John Kerry has recognized is not likely to come to fruition at this point.
If negotiations have to start again, what would make them different and successful?
Successful negotiations can occur only after Israel commits to dismantling its apartheid regime over the Palestinians. Any talks prior to Israel committing to ending its apartheid policies will result in failure.
In your opinion, what is the real problem in negotiations: is Israel not really interested to change the status-quo or is the issue of refugees or Jerusalem?
I think the central issue is Israel’s ongoing apartheid policies toward Palestinians. Israel has established a regime of domination and control that treats Palestinians separately and unequally while privileging its Jewish citizens. This, I believe, is the root cause of the issue.
Do you think countries like Russia or China can be potential sponsor in future negotiations and how do you see the role of the EU?
The United States, even though it continues to fail to broker peace, nevertheless systematically shoves aside any other actor who would like to try their hand at helping to resolve this issue. This U.S. domination of the so-called “peace process” is by design and to Israel’s liking because it understands that the U.S. role is to be “Israel’s lawyers” in the words of former “peace process” official Aaron David Miller.
(Ruebner is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan federal government agency providing policy analysis to Members of Congress. His writings appear frequently in the media, including USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, The Hill, Huffington Post and more.)