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Why peace remains elusive in the Middle East


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) listens to an advisor during his meeting with Dutch Lower House chamber president and Dutch Senate chamber president as part of his visit to the Netherlands at the Binnenhof, in the Hague, on September 7, 2016.  Bart Maat / ANP / AFP

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) listens to an advisor during his meeting with Dutch Lower House chamber president and Dutch Senate chamber president as part of his visit to the Netherlands at the Binnenhof, in the Hague, on September 7, 2016.<br />Bart Maat / ANP / AFP

It is important to note, also, that the Paris agreement put the highest stress on the Arab peace initiative of 2002, which has been already rejected by Netanyahu. Netanyahu has claimed that the only way to correct that initiative is to engage in direct talks with the Arab countries, not Palestinians alone, noting that Arabs should open their arms to Israel.

Such a precondition is just an effort to reduce blame on Israel. The current problem is just between Israel and Palestine and has nothing to do with the rest of the Arab world. On the other hand, the international system takes precedence over individual states. Of course, there are links between Palestine and other Arab states in ethnic terms. On the other hand, establishing contacts between Arab countries and Israel over the issue of Palestine without presence of the Palestinian side would be a violation of the country’s sovereignty.

This is true as establishing contacts and relations with any country should be based on its sovereign will and not through imposition. Such a condition shows that Israel does not want this process to get underway in the first place. At the same time, there is no consensus among all Arab countries about establishing relations with Israel. At present, countries like Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia and even Iraq are not willing to have relations with Israel.

Therefore, it is not acceptable for anybody to say that all Arab countries should accept this issue. Another point is that Israel seeks amendments to some parts of the Arab peace initiative. Amendments purported by Israel include annexation of al-Quds (Jerusalem) to Israel as well as part of the West Bank, which would be against many international regulations and resolutions, including Resolution 242, which clearly calls on Israel to retreat from those territories, which were occupied in 1967.

Another point is that from 2013 to 2014, the US Secretary of State John Kerry has made 15 trips stressing the need to resolve the issue of Palestine and Israel. However, due to obstinacy of Israel and its lack of acceptance for international resolutions, negotiations have so far been futile. Now, a country like France, which is threatened by influx of refugees from the Middle East as well as insecurity and terrorist operations, is trying to find a solution. European governments think they are obliged to answer to their public opinion about the reason behind recent insecurity and are trying to address the root cause of this issue.

Finally, such meetings will only reach a result when there is an international consensus, especially including the United States. As long as the United States supports Israel in its defiance of international resolutions, there is no way to find any solution for the peace between Palestine and Israel. This comes at a time that Israel is seeing the most rightist cabinet of its history in power and mere existence of such a radical cabinet makes it almost impossible to find a solution to this problem. Most members of this cabinet are hell-bent on defying many international resolutions.

Therefore, neither domestic conditions in Israel, nor international situation is ready for finding a solution to this problem. Israel has never tried to respect international regulations. Perhaps, the sole solution is to show resistance to Israel. The most important reason why Israel retreated from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip was resistance.

Israel only knows the language of resistance and without it, there is no way to find a solution through negotiations. If negotiations could have reached a solution, it would have taken place during the past 23 years, but it did not happen. The reality on the ground shows that the possibility of reaching a solution under the present circumstances is not significant either.
• Rouyvaran is Faculty Member of the University of Tehran and Middle East Analyst

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1 Comment
  • Beer Baron

    It would be difficult to find anything remotely accurate in this diatribe against Israel, but I will restrict myself to the following point:

    Under international law, Jews are entitled to live anywhere in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There is no such thing as Palestinian land and never was. The West Bank and Gaza never belonged to any sovereign ruler after the British withdrew from Mandatory Palestine; before that it was part of the Ottoman empire.

    Israel acquired the West Bank in a defensive war from Trans-Jordan. Under international law, Israel is not required to transfer the land to a third-party.