The Middle East warning

The danger of the Middle East peace bid falling apart will be catastrophic for the holy land in President Barack Obama’s opinion. While addressing the UN General Assembly at the end of the three-day global poverty conference in New York, the US President sounded a grim warning, days before the D-day—the expiry of the Israeli settlement freeze moratorium.

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Published: Sat 25 Sep 2010, 9:23 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:53 PM

The settlements issue has now become the lifeline of the peace process that was finally re-launched this September after fervent diplomatic efforts by the United States.

The fact that the US was able to influence Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to the talks with Israel only gained a few weeks. Though at that time the Palestinian’s initial condition for a permanent cessation of settlements was not met, it could not be avoided for long. The Palestinian Authority has now categorically refused to engage in further negotiations unless Israel extends its settlements freeze.

Obama’s clarion call has come at a critical time. According to Obama, in case the US-backed peace process fails, both parties will be left with nothing in hand but further violence. Such a situation will not get the Palestinians their coveted state, nor will the Israelis know “true security.” Obama thus urged both parties to choose the path to peace and not give in to sabotage attempts by radical elements engaged in undermining progress. One can see how Obama at his oratorical best tried to infuse enthusiasm and optimism in laying out a vision of a sovereign Palestinian state living in peace with Israel, a goal he hoped would be achievable by next year. But is this possible? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who according to Obama possesses the courage to make the peace deal, has voiced support to resolve long-standing contentions with the Palestinians.

That is all good. But are Netanyahu and the Israeli government genuinely committed to cede some very significant concessions that are laid out on the sacrificial altar on the path to peace? Settlements are only the first cornerstone in laying the foundations of peace with the Palestinians. If even this issue is not resolved, how can they expect things to move forward? Maybe this is why the US president urged Israel to extend the freeze moratorium.

The truth is that both sides need to pledge security and stability. But expecting Palestinians to give in every time whether its settlements, redrawing of borders, return of Palestinian refugees or the status of Jerusalem is hardly feasible. Moreover, even short-term gains made by arm-twisting are hardly going to help in the attainment of the desired objective — a stable and secure Middle East.



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