Foreign Affairs

The long road to peace

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine have grinded to a disconcerting halt, their respective political environments have re-oriented drastically since the late nineteenth century, and it is now unlikely they will reach an amicable conclusion on their own.

The situation is highly volatile with tensions which could explode into violence at any moment. United States mediation has failed numerous times to bring the conflict to a halt; the only way the deadlock can be broken is through a United Nations Security Council resolution, along with the aid of the US, so that both Israel and Palestine will be pressured to restart the crucial negotiations.

With the help of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, conservatism has exploded in popularity throughout Israel. It will be difficult for a peace agreement to be reached with such a right-wing government in power, due to religious and ideological factors which would inhibit the major concessions that would need to be made.

Netanyahu has been discussing the ‘two-state solution’ for quite some time. Such an agreement would please certain international communities and the centre-ground, but he has been constricted when it comes to engaging in serious negotiations. The moment those talks commence, and any concessions that point towards the formation of a Palestinian state are made, his coalition government will fall apart.

In the 2015 election for the twentieth Knesset, Netanyahu’s Likud party had formed a coalition with The Jewish Home, United Torah Judaism, Kulanu, and Shas parties, which secured him the minimum requirement of 61 seats.

With the news of a two-state solution, many members of Netanyahu’s own party will defect, and it is likely Naftali Bennett, the leader of the almost far-right Jewish Home party will bail out of the coalition.

However, it isn’t just political ideology which is stopping peace negotiations; even if left-wing and centre parties form a coalition in a new election, they won’t be able to act without approval of one of the most religious and moderate parties in the Knesset – the Likud Party.

The settlement movement has been highly praised by successive Israeli governments and this has been entrenched in all aspects of government and military. Therefore, with complete disregard to the political spectrum, any elected Israeli government would be unable to provide the concessions needed to bring the conflict to an end, particularly when it comes to the sharing of Jerusalem and the arrangement of Israeli settlements.

The Knesset has a threshold of 3.25% in order for a party to be elected. Such a low requirement means that every election season new political parties are formed. Due to this, since the creation of the State of Israel, no political party has been able to form a majority government.

The party that manages to gain a small lead ends up forming a coalition comprises of numerous other parties, this does make Israel’s political scene more diverse but it also means the leading party has to make serious compromises, including its stance on the Palestinian conflict.

A large percentage of Palestinians wish to end the ‘Israeli occupation’ and yet the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas have been unable to reach a mutual understanding so that they can accept the countless offers Israel has made for peace. President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian National Authority has made his decision clear – he wants to reach a swift conclusion through diplomatic means, but has been unsuccessful in his bid due to external factors.

Firstly, he has been working from a less powerful position, and in his attempt to gain authority he ordered that Israel freeze their settlement expansion and release Palestinian prisoners. Unsurprisingly, Israel declined to meet the demand.

Secondly, the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas cannot come to an agreement regarding the peace talk process.

Thirdly, Hamas has one thing in mind:  to destroy the State of Israel. With continual violence in hope of achieving its political objective, Hamas will remain irreconcilable to the stance of the Palestinian National Authority.

Israel has held off on negotiations as long as Hamas have failed to follow the Quartet Principles, which include a recognition of the State of Israel, an obligation to abide by previous agreements, and a renunciation of violence as means of achieving their political aims

The Palestinian National Authority and Hamas are taking this opportunity for granted.

They are using it to improve their political standing, thus showing a limited desire to come to a peaceful conclusion. This is detrimental to their cause and is heavily damaging their credibility as leaders. The constant anti-Semitism in their media and public education, along with unethical proselytization of both public and private organisations, has led to increasing levels of distrust between the two parties.

The conflict has left the Palestinian public vulnerable to the promotion of Hamas and Islamic Jihad ideologies through their stance against Israel. This is largely due to the poor leadership of Palestinian officials and their resentment towards Israeli peace offerings.

Although President Abbas is attempting to take a diplomatic approach to resolving the conflict, the actions of Hamas, loss of control over Gaza, and the weakening support of the Palestinian public, have left him in a feeble positon. Consequently, it will be difficult for him to take intrepid actions in order to speed up the peace talks.

Leaving the two parties to settle issues themselves would be futile, and leaving such a stalemate to continue would only ensure the demise of both sides.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: