The international community and the peace process

Negotiations assume Israel wants to coexist with a Palestinian state, although the EU and US are too afraid to ask if this is accurate (Photo: euinus.org)
Negotiations assume Israel wants to coexist with a Palestinian state, although the EU and US are too afraid to ask if this is accurate (Photo: euinus.org)

The road to peace won’t emerge from the temptations of political realism, an approach that failed time and time again in processes of de-colonisation.  Palestinians simply won’t give up their demands, just as the Vietnamese, Algerians and South Africans didn’t. The road to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict bypasses policies aimed at minimising risks and maximising benefits within a given power relationship. Peace will be the consequence of adopting a rights- based approach, in which the concept of right is clearly defined as non-negotiable.

Despite over twenty years of heavily subsidised negotiations,  there is no peace between Palestinians and Israelis. It is difficult to believe that the current round of negotiations set to begin in WashingtonDC will be different. Beyond Israeli unwillingness to part with the territory it occupied in 1967, two incorrect assumptions of the international community render negotiations potentially fruitless.

The first wrong assumption is that rational international relations are defined in terms of power and stability in order to minimise risks and maximise benefits. Given the current relations of force between Israel and the Palestinians, it is “rational” that the Palestinians will be forced to make the major concessions to render a peace agreement possible.

However, the history of de-colonisation has demonstrated that nations in their struggle for self determination are ready to defy this concept of “rationality”. The Vietnam and Algeria wars prove that liberation struggles succeed when they rise above the existing relations of forces, pulling a political victory out of a military defeat.

Despite Israel’s overwhelming military might, it has failed to force the Palestinians to accept its political concerns. Most likely Israel will continue to fail on this level in the future.

The second incorrect assumption of the international community is that the Israeli political community is ready to coexist side by side with an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. Fearing the answer, the international community has never asked Israel for a clear position on this issue.

However, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, answered this issue four years ago by disregarding international resolutions and neglecting Israel’s past commitments: the Palestinian state should be a demilitarised Palestinian entity void of sovereignty, created under the condition that it recognises Israel as a Jewish state and renounces the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Netanyahu never spoke about the borders of such an entity, but made it clear that they would not be those from before the 1967 Middle East war.

Assuming that at the negotiating table the Palestinians will be the one who make the major concessions, the international community will trust “moderate” forces in Israel to pressure Netanyahu to advance toward an agreement.

However, the relations of forces in Israel are inauspicious for Israeli moderates. Israeli moderate forces have no power to mobilise a mass peace movement; nor do they possess the needed parliamentary representation to replace the current ruling coalition.

The road to peace won’t emerge from the temptations of political realism, an approach that failed time and time again in the processes of de-colonisation.  Palestinians simply won’t give up their demands, just as the Vietnamese, Algerians and South Africans didn’t. The road to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict bypasses policies aimed at minimising risks and maximising benefits within a given power relationship. Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be the consequence of adopting a rights- based approach, in which the concept of right is clearly defined as non-negotiable.

 

 

* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

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