Uncertainty Defines Future of Peace Process Between Israel and Palestine
Photo Credit: Washington Post
By Colby Cyrus/Contributing Writer
When Donald Trump took office, he inherited a position packed with complicated issues. Job creation, international terror, and tax reform; all made the list of priorities.
As with several recent administrations, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process also came to the forefront. The only skepticism concerned the question of how?
Few could have predicted, however, that leadership of negotiations would fall on the shoulders of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and trusted confidante. Trump tasked Kushner with creating the “ultimate deal” to satisfy all parties and lead to stability in a long contested region.
The solution now appears further away than ever.
After a short trip to the region, highlighted by meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, reports circulated that the administration may consider removing itself from the peace process entirely, despite denial by certain senior officials.
One of Abbas’ charges concerned a pro-Israeli bias on the part of the United States, especially as Kushner carried Israel’s message into his meeting.
The speculated termination of peace talks follows a reportedly tense meeting between Kushner and Abbas, during which Kushner apparently relayed Israeli demands to halt funding of terrorists and their families.
However, from a Palestinian point of view, these “terrorists” are nothing more than freedom fighters resisting inhumane conditions under the Israeli occupation.
Abbas, on the other hand, has yet to denounce the killing of 23-year-old St.-Sgt. Hadas Malka in Jerusalem. His refusal to condemn the attack has led to an angered response from the Israelis.
If placing Jared Kushner in the driver’s seat was intended to spur change and fresh ideas, the administration must be disappointed. The always touchy peace process has arguably come to a screeching halt, while unpredictability clouds the next step.
This idea begs the question of the United States’ and Israel’s dedication to finding a solution at all. The United States sees Israel as a crucial ally in the region: it provides, for example, security cooperation as well as economic opportunity.
In return, Israel enjoys the support of the most powerful nation in the world, despite its occupation of Palestine which constitutes a “flagrant violation of international law.”
Photo Credit: Newsweek
The United States needs a strong Israel, which it has. Israel needs a loyal United States, which it appears to have. Given the importance of the Israeli alliance, the United States seems unlikely to contest the small nation on its hottest issue.
Verbally expressing a commitment to peace differs entirely from actually taking action which leads to this result. The United States has gone astray here.
In the short term, the United States sees more of an interest in keeping Israel happy and cooperative rather than forcing them to abandon a situation from which they currently gain.
So, what will it really take to begin the long journey down the road to peace? Palestine will need to agree to a compromise which benefits the United States and Israel as much as they do now. Ideally, this would be the ultimate deal that Jared Kushner draws up.
Yet, given the political power and influence of the two main actors in question, such an outcome remains unlikely at best.
Trump’s apparent satisfaction with either a one or two-state solution, coupled with Kushner’s strained meeting with Abbas, illustrates a possible American complacency towards finding true peace.
Kushner’s role included breaking down barriers and getting work done to push all parties towards a finish line. Instead, walls still stand and sides remain taken.
The light will not begin to show at the end of the tunnel until the United States and Israel either reassess their interests or become willing to compromise. Until then, a relentless repeat of history will continue to dominate the conversation.