13/05/2014

The stalemate of the Israeli-Palestinian issue suits only to… Israel

By Sébastien Boussois, MEDEA Institute

Nine months after the Israelis and the Palestinians have resumed the peace negotiations, it’s a new stillborn child who has been produced. The resumption of the US-sponsored peace talks in July 2013 predictably failed, confirming the idea that the political situation is favourable to Israel and not to the Palestinians.

A surprise?  Certainly not while the media get excited. The divisions of the Palestinians and the intransigence of the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who has learned from its failure in 1996 when he attempted to reach a compromise, put both parties into a stalemate. Everyone knows how to conclude a peace agreement, but the lack of political will of the Israeli government –let’s call it a “justifiable blocking strategy of process”- which doesn’t want to make concessions (colonization, borders, Jerusalem), and the unavailing strategy of Abbas in front of the international institutions and the international law since 2011 (despite of the recognition at the UN and UNESCO), have undermined the talks. Furthermore Israel is busy with the regional destabilizations close to its borders: the Syrian conflict in the northeast area, Lebanon in the northwest and Egypt in the southern part.

Should we fear a new cycle of violence? It’s unlikely to occur because of Israel encirclement of the West Bank, and above all because the Palestinians have learned from the violence of the second Intifada in 2000: 3000 unnecessary casualties. The inter-Palestinian reconciliation in April 2014 and the government of national unity so much expected between Hamas and Fatah could produce a radicalization of the political situation despite of common efforts. However, if we look at it more accurately, opting unintentionally for a peaceful resistance for a decade resulted in no tangible effects. In response to the regional political turmoil, Israel has a major interest in maintaining the status quo with its sworn enemy. Why Israel would take the risk to create a new hotbed of tensions, and on the domestic front?

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© AP/Amel Hana. Fatah and Hamas have announced in Gaza they have reached a political agreement on the 23th April.

The Israeli leaders are embedded in a very short-term vision: struggle for survival, security and defense prevail. This year, the world was the witness of the death of the old general Ariel Sharon. If he was in a coma for nearly seven years and was unlikely to recover, his death has also meant the end of a generation of Israeli politicians who had a clear vision for their country, even if Sharon has been criticized a lot. The Israeli democracy – and the Western ones in general – gets on the first hand more and more politically deficient; on the other hand, a growing loss of interest of the population that the restriction of some freedoms doesn’t shock anyone. The death of Ariel Sharon presses the examination of 65 years of intense history that is more and more criticized by the new historians. Above all, the death of Sharon conveys the impression of a policy led by leaders who have only a short-term vision of the matters of the country, and an unclear view on the path to take in order to fully integrate to the future of the region. And the critics spread: in the aftermath of the end of the talks, John Kerry underlined the risk that Israel would become an “apartheid State”. A criticism that many level at it in the hushed corridors of the governments.