Palestinian-Israeli peace process needs kiss of life
The unpleasant exchanges on Tuesday at the United Nations Security Council between United States and Palestinian representatives was just another indication of how difficult the Middle East peace process may become. As US UN ambassador Nikki Haley acknowledged, at the root of the present impasse was the White House’s December announcement that the United States considers Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital and will move its embassy there.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ appeal for a new, broader framework for negotiations for Palestinian statehood derived from disappointment, which was understandable given the Palestinian Authority’s otherwise high hopes for a breakthrough under the US presidency of Donald Trump.
That, despite Trump’s pro-Israel remarks on the campaign trail, Abbas was among his earliest foreign visitors was in itself a clear sign of such hopes. It was then that Abbas praised his host as a leader committed to peace.
Now that the Palestinian Authority no longer sees Washington as a fitting peace broker, it is only natural for it to pursue a fresh approach, especially when Abbas’ claim of “absolute readiness to reach a historic agreement” is taken into consideration.
While the Palestine leader may have all but disqualified the United States as a mediator, and things look messy at this point, it is important to not look aside from the fact that all parties involved profess they remain committed to peace and to negotiations aimed at securing a lasting solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Accusing the Trump White House of abdicating its commitment to a peaceful solution, Abbas told the Security Council on Tuesday the Palestinians have not “rejected negotiations” and believe talks are the only path to peace; Israeli UN ambassador Danny Danon conceded “the only way to move forward is to have direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians”; while Haley urged Palestinians to choose “the path of negotiation and compromise” and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the other day the controversial decision regarding Jerusalem “does not preclude a twostate solution”, which Abbas wants.
This might be a very weak consensus. But it is a precious ray of hope that deserves to be cherished by all parties.
Things may not become irreparable as long as the US is willing to review its Jerusalem stance and Palestine sees the former’s indispensable role in brokering lasting peace in the region.