Middle East Peace: What Netanyahu’s Visit Means for Prospects of Peace
This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Washington, DC, to address the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and meet with President Barack Obama to discuss various issues ranging from Iran to the current peace talks.
The two leaders met at a crucial time, with just one month left before the peace talk negotiations are set to expire. While Obama urged Netanyahu to push ahead while considering the hard decisions and compromises needed to achieve peace, Netanyahu’s response was “I won’t give in to pressure.”
Prior to the meeting, Obama sat down with Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg for a candid and revealing interview on where the peace talks would head should the Israelis or Palestinians refuse to endorse a U.S.-drafted framework for peace. Obama’s overall message to Netanyahu through the interview was, “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?
SEE: Obama to Bibi: ‘Time is Running Out’ (Bloomberg)
Obama also alluded to Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments on the direction of the peace talks and his frustration with the negotiations running against the clock. Previously, Kerry suggested that if time runs out and the negotiations do not succeed, there may not be another chance to peacefully end the conflict. In fact, if the peace process does not work because of Israeli unwillingness to compromise, Israel itself could face international isolation and boycotts, which the United States would not be able to contain.
While the Obama administration may not be in favor of boycotting or isolating the state of Israel, the President is well aware that international perception of the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government is quite damning, telling Goldberg:
“What we [also] know is that Israel has become more isolated internationally. We had to stand up in the [U.N.] Security Council in ways that 20 years ago would have involved far more European support, far more support from other parts of the world when it comes to Israel’s position. And that’s a reflection of a genuine sense on the part of a lot of countries out there that this issue continues to fester, is not getting resolved, and that nobody is willing to take the leap to bring it to closure.”
It seems clear from Netanyahu’s remarks both with Obama and to AIPAC that he lays the onus of peace squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinians. From his remarks, it is clear he does not take into consideration the continued settlement growth and obstacles by the far-right in Israel that seems to reject a sustainable peace with the Palestinian people. This is not the attitude of a real partner in peace, someone who is sincerely looking to invest in both political and moral capital.
Should the peace talks fail due to either party’s unwillingness to compromise or the lack of a majority vote accepting final status agreements, there will be severe consequences for the region. The Palestinian people both in the West Bank and Gaza are under humanitarian, economic and political pressures that are not sustainable. MPAC reiterates its supports for the Palestinian people to determine their destiny and join the international community of nations as a free and dignified people and supports their rights for self-determination and the dream of a Palestinian state. If the Palestinian people do not achieve this goal through a negotiated settlement they will have the right to seek it through other forms of non-violent resistance, including civil disobedience, the boycott-divest-sanctions (BDS) movement, approaching international institutions for recognition and recourse, as well as artistic and cultural resistance.
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