21 December, 2009

There's No Other Way

I was saying recently that a precondition for any real advance in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is the USA being clearly willing to put real pressure on Israel. I do not think that is the only condition – some kind of resolution of the Palestinians' internal political issues is probably also required. By that I mean that some kind of unified Palestinian government (or negotiating team) is required, or that somehow a Palestinian negotiating team with the legitimacy* to make deals on behalf of the Palestinians is required (PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not have that legitimacy). But, even with the emergence of a credible Palestinian interlocutor, I still believe that no progress can be made if the USA is unwilling to play hard-ball Israel.

This is a fairly depressing view. Virtually unconditional support for Israel is effectively a core value of the United States, one that has persisted across any number of administrations. For all his big talk about reaching out to the Arab world, Barack Obama is now falling into the old patterns of putting minimal (if any) pressure on Israel. I do not think there is likely to be any change in the US position at any foreseeable point in the future.

So, does that mean that the Middle East peace process is doomed? If I am correct, then yes it does. But am I correct? Is there another way to advance the quest for a just and lasting settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict? I throw this question to you and await your responses.

*I mean legitimacy to Palestinians. I do not think anyone else should be able to specify who talks on their behalf.

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