Posts tagged Peace Process

Tzipi Livni throws cold water on prospects for peace

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Tzipi Livni, the only person in the soon-to-be-formed Israeli government who genuinely believes in the importance of the two-state peace process, splashed cold water on the prospect of it ever happening Tuesday. It’s time to start looking at alternative plans in case a two-state solution with the Palestinians proves impossible, she said.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Livni said for the umpteenth time that the two-state solution is the only acceptable path for Israel.

But, and this is a big but, she admitted that it might not be a realistic goal and that Israel needs “to prepare interim measures or other measures, or unilateral ones that can lessen the damage, which can reduce the pressure a little.”

When those politicians who have dedicated much of their careers to advancing the peace process begin to express doubts about the viability of their own project, anyone who believes in those leaders and their political programs should be worried.

Former settler leader Dany Dayan drove the sentiment home, assuredly saying that (more…)

‘Down with Oslo’ (and the PA?)

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Nearly two decades have passed since the Oslo Accords first gave the world hope for Mideast peace and an end to Israeli rule over the Palestinian territories; in the West Bank, the failed framework for peace talks has become directly associated with the occupation itself. When hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets last week to protest a (subsequently canceled) visit to Ramallah by Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, their chants targeted the former IDF chief, but the calls for an end to Oslo were even louder – an indirect attack on President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

Eighteen years after the Palestinian Authority’s creation, some Palestinians are questioning whether the Oslo-designed Palestinian quasi-government, which was only ever meant to exist as a five-year interim body, has outlived its raison d’être of achieving Palestinian independence and ending the occupation through diplomatic channels.

As far as a growing number of people are concerned, the Oslo accords, and their byproduct, the Palestinian Authority, have done little more than act as a political and security buffer for maintaining Israel’s (more…)

One state, two state, three state, four – Part III

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This is the third and final part of a three-part series exploring alternatives to the two-state solution in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Part one examined attitudes and approaches to the one-state solution. Part two looked at the option of an Israeli-Palestinian federation.

Prospects for a two-state resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have dimmed in recent months and years. Over 60 percent of both Palestinians and Israelis think it is unlikely a Palestinian state will be created in the coming years, according to a recent poll. An equally large majority on both sides opposes accepting the other’s conditions for returning to negotiations toward that goal. Frustrated that interim stages have become a permanent status quo and lamenting the lack of any process, Oslo peace process architects Yossi Beilin and Ahmed Qurei, have both recently called for the dismantling of their design.

Meanwhile, the one-state solution is cast as the only alternative, one that negates both current Zionist political thought and the goals of the Palestinian national movement. Other alternatives are rarely discussed, even as the conflict appears increasingly intractable.

Alternatives to the two-state solution, like the Oslo process itself and any other model for conflict resolution, need not be accepted as absolute prescriptions. Although not necessarily viable, the model outlined below, “parallel states,” offers new ideas for (more…)

One state, two state, three state, four – Part II

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Read part one of this series here

Many supporters of the two-state solution are apprehensive that its failure would eventually lead to one state, bringing to an end its Jewish character. However, there are several well-articulated alternatives that should be examined.

The two-state solution has faced a number of problems that appear to be becoming more and more insurmountable. The question of territory and geographic boundaries lies at the heart of many of those concerns. Israel’s continued settlement enterprise eats away at the territory slated for a future Palestinian state. Furthermore, much of mainstream Israeli thought says that withdrawing to the 1949 Armistice Lines (the Green Line) would leave Israel with “indefensible borders.”

Equally important is the question of whether an independent Palestinian state within the Green Line would actually be viable. The lack of territorial contiguity between the West Bank and (more…)

One state, two state, three state, four – Part I

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More than two decades since the start of the peace process, the two-state solution has become the only acceptable path for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in contemporary discourse. But while the two-state solution may be the only one currently sitting on the table, many others continue to linger around it, waiting for someone to pick them up. The most recent such attempt was the One State Conference held at Harvard University earlier this month, promoting the idea of one liberal state for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The conference was derided by all colors of Israelis and American Zionists as “delegitimizing” Israel. Discussing a one-state solution, some said, “is a euphemism for ending the existence of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”

The likes of World Jewish Congress Secretary-General Dan Diker, along with various Israeli and world Jewish leaders, dismissed the conference as “anti-Semitic theater.” Jerusalem Post columnist (more…)

Why Netanyahu is wrong about Fatah-Hamas unity

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“You can either have peace with Hamas or peace with Israel,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a public statement Monday, hours after Abbas signed an agreement to form an interim government with Hamas ahead of Palestinian elections. The ultimatum, however, is fundamentally flawed; even if peace with Israel was around the corner, it would not be possible for the Palestinian president to reach a deal with Israel before mending ties with Hamas.

The only solution to the conflict currently on the table – although many others are lurking in the background – is the two-state solution, which by definition necessitates one unified Palestinian leadership. The goal of the two-state framework is the establishment of the State of Palestine, not two separate states in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But there are other more important issues involved. Mahmoud Abbas is not Yasser Arafat. Abbas’s credibility on the Palestinian street has been consistently waning. Currently entering the seventh year of a four-year (more…)

Taking the ‘peace’ out of the process

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The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been dead for years, but a revival of talks between the two sides this week in Amman proved that ‘the process’ still serves a purpose. For Israel, even topical engagement in the process is necessary to maintain its aura of righteousness – that the Palestinians are to blame for a perpetual state of conflict – thereby allowing it to continue presenting the status quo as the only viable option. For the Palestinians, returning to the table justifies the revitalization of a stalled push for statehood by pointing to the futility of negotiations, and in a way, also helps maintain the status quo that serves the Ramallah political elite.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak took to the Israeli airwaves to discuss the upcoming talks a day before the two sides met in Amman this week. He discussed the various strategic advantages for Israel in resuming contacts with the Palestinians and at the same time made clear he had no expectations from them. But most notably, never in the 15-minute interview did he once say the word “peace.”

Perhaps feeling the need to justify to a domestic audience the simple act of sitting at the (more…)

Israel tries out ‘Occupy’: Fleeting notions of (social) justice

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Israel’s social justice movement, which was retaking city squares in the name of the average citizen months before Occupy Wall Street came along, attempted a comeback last week with its first mass protest after a two-month hiatus. Keeping to its “apolitical” social platform, the protest movement continues to carefully quarantine its definition of social justice, keeping it safe in the comfortable confines of the 1967 Green Line that shields the majority of Israelis from Palestinians. One mainstream Israeli politician, however, shattered that concept last week in a barely noticed and subsequently buried outburst in the Knesset.

The now-famous public faces of the Israeli social protest movement, first amongst them folk hero Dafni Leef, were present for the opening session of the Knesset’s winter session last week. As cameras panned to the social activists during the plenum’s widely-televised opening debate, politicians fulfilled expectations by vowing (more…)

The Shalit Deal: Israel and Hamas vs. Abbas

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Following the announcement of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas Tuesday night, Israeli television displayed a split screen showing crowds simultaneously dancing in both Jerusalem and Gaza City. One anchor on Channel 2 News commented, “It’s not often that you see people celebrating the same deal in Israel and Gaza.”

It would be wrong and skewed to suggest that the primary goal in reaching the prisoner exchange deal was driven by any motivation greater than the actual release of prisoners. But after five years of negotiations and amid the PA’s UN bid, the timing and alternative considerations involved are significant and potentially of great consequence.

As with everything in the Middle East, there is more to the prisoner exchange deal than what is immediately obvious. In the midst of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s statehood bid in the United Nations, it is in the interest of both Israel and Hamas to undermine the PA president, something that was likely accomplished Tuesday.

Although Abbas’s bid for statehood is a bold move that excites Palestinians, most are aware that the diplomatic maneuver is unlikely to deliver any of the tangible results Palestinians demand, the least of which is technical statehood.

Up until today, Hamas has failed to actually improve the lives of Palestinians, both in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Although its resistance ideology has preserved its credibility, electorates (more…)

Settlers, the Foreign Ministry and the ‘Demographic Demon’

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Earlier this summer, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon put out an English-language video, which was identical to one released by the Yesha Council (the umbrella organization of West Bank settlements) several months earlier. The widely distributed video argued Israel’s right to hold the West Bank and challenged the Palestinian right to establish a state in it.

Utilizing similar slick graphics, the same Yesha producers recently released a new video arguing that the “demographic demon,” the logic behind former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s personal conversion to a supporter of the two-state solution, is no longer a threat – if it ever was.

The new Yesha video is a direct challenge to that narrative, promoted by nearly every recent Israeli prime minister and peace-oriented organization – that in order to maintain an Israeli state in which Jews are the majority, a two-state solution is necessary. (more…)

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