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Israelis And Palestinians Cannot Make Peace On Their Own

By       Message Alon Ben-Meir     Permalink
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Reprinted from Alon Ben-Meir Blog

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The enduring impasse between Israel and the Palestinians in the peace negotiations and their changing internal political dynamics has made it impossible for them to resolve the conflict on their own. Leaving them to their own devices is no longer a viable option as the continuation of the conflict is hazardous and potentially explosive.

The resumption of bilateral peace negotiations with US mediation alone will not succeed any more than the Obama administration's two previous efforts. The floating idea that France may present a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to coerce both parties to resume negotiations, with the support of the United States, will be necessary to break the impasse.

Israel: The steadily increasing popularity of the right-of-center in Israel made it nearly impossible, due to ideological and religious reasons, for any right-wing government to negotiate a peace agreement, which of necessity requires major concessions that it is not willing to make.

Prime Minister Netanyahu or any other staunch right-wing ideologue may talk about a two-state solution to appease the international community and the political center in Israel, but they have no intention of entering into serious direct peace talks with the Palestinians that could potentially lead to a two-state solution.

In fact, even if Netanyahu decides to negotiate and make certain concessions that could point to the creation of a Palestinian state, his coalition government will immediately unravel.

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Many members from his own party will defect, and certainly the extremely conservative Jewish Home party led by Naftali Bennett, who will under no circumstance agree to the creation of a Palestinian state and end the occupation.

Assuming that new elections are held in Israel and the center and left-of-center parties form a new coalition government, such a coalition will still be unable to strike a peace agreement without the support of one of the religious parties and moderate members of Likud.

It is critically important to note that successive Israeli governments across the political spectrum have been beholden to the settlement movement, which is fully embedded in every branch of government and exercises tremendous influence on the military establishment as well.

Thus, no Israeli government, regardless of its political makeup, will be in a position to deliver the necessary concessions, especially in connection with Jerusalem and the disposition of the settlements.

What further complicates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Israeli political system, which inherently promotes the birth of new parties every time there is an election due to the low parliamentary threshold of only 3.25 percent to be eligible to elect one or more members to the Knesset.

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Since the creation of Israel, no political party has been able to muster a majority vote to form a government on its own. As a result, the party that garners a relative majority ends up forming a coalition government composed of several parties.

Forming such a coalition government often requires the leading party to make significant concessions to other coalition partners and almost always end up agreeing on the lowest common denominator on many vital issues, especially in connection with the Palestinian conflict.

Given this level of political dysfunction within Israel, it is no wonder that even left and centrist parties have been unable to form a government in which there was complete consensus about the peace process and the desired outcome.

Moreover, when right-wing and centrist parties formed a coalition government in the past, they still failed to reach a peace agreement. As a case in point, Tzipi Livni, the then-leader of the centrist party Hatnuah who was appointed as Justice Minister and chief negotiator under Netanyahu's previous government in 2013, was hampered from making any concessions as Netanyahu chose his private attorney Yitzhak Molcho to oversee the negotiations and ensure that she did not make any significant concessions without the expressed approval of Netanyahu.

The Palestinians: Whereas a majority of ordinary Palestinians are weary of the status quo and seek to end the occupation, their leadership (the Palestinian Authority [PA] and Hamas) have thus far failed to agree on common ground to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

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www.alonben-meir.com

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. His dedication to writing about, analyzing, and (more...)
 

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