The Dream for Peace in the Middle East

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hossein Rouyvaran
Faculty Member of the University of Tehran and Middle East Analyst

An international conference aimed at restarting peace talks in the Middle East was recently held in the French capital, Paris. The meeting focused on the issue of terrorism in Europe and the efforts made by various terrorist groups, especially Daesh, to carry out acts of terrorism in France, Belgium and other European countries. It seems that the West has reached the conclusion that radical measures taken by Israelis are one of the main reasons behind the rise of extremism in the Middle East and those radical measures are now threatening Europe as well. This is why the Foreign Minister of Sweden Margot Wallstrom recently said, “I reject and condemn the stabbing attacks. I think it's terrible and must not happen, and Israel has the right to defend itself and ensure its security.” “At the same time,” Wallstrom continued, “Israel's response cannot be - and I say this in other cases as well - one of extrajudicial executions or a disproportionate response…”

Several weeks before that, the Swedish foreign minister had made remarks on the terror attacks in Paris, linking Daesh’s attacks on Paris to “Palestinians’ frustration” and saying that what happened in Paris was reminiscent of the situation in the Middle East and the plight of Palestinians who “see that there is no future: we must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.” Her remarks infuriated Israel and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to describe her comments as “a mix of blindness and political stupidity.”

The first point in this regard is that Europe now believes that as long as the issue of Palestine is a problem, nobody should expect security. Therefore, European countries decided to hold a meeting on the issue of peace in the Middle East. Faced with this development, Netanyahu said neither direct talks, nor holding conferences can be a solution to this problem. We, however, know that such remarks are aimed to cause such conferences to fail. Netanyahu wants to undermine those who hold such events because during the past 32 years, direct talks have always existed between Palestinians – represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization and Mahmoud Abbas – and Israel with no clear results. Basically speaking, since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 up to the present time, direct talks between the two sides have born no fruit.

Therefore, the important point is holding international dialogue on the basis of international resolutions that have been so far issued against Israel. Israel has so far refrained from implementing those international resolutions due to the support offered to it by the West, especially the United States. Resolutions 181, 242 and 338 are among those resolutions toward which Israel has been so far indifferent. Israel, however, would be forced to implement international resolutions when the West reaches an agreement to mount pressure on Tel Aviv. But can this be actually possible? The answer is No. the United States opposes any form of pressure on Israel. Therefore, as long as the United States supports Israel’s stonewalling, holding meetings such as the Paris conference will not get anywhere.

Another point is 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.

Key Words:  Middle East, Peace, Conference, Paris, Margot Wallstrom, Israel, Extremism, Benjamin Netanyahu, Europe, Palestine Liberation Organization, Mahmoud Abbas, Resolutions, US, Arab Peace Initiative, John Kerry, Refugees, Lebanon, Gaza Strip, Resistance, Rouyvaran

Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: EU Photo

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