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The 'Indirect negotiations'...a real solution or a merely search for an exit?

Former US President Barack Obama [file photo]
Former US President Barack Obama [file photo]

We assume that the Obama administration is committed to the peace process and the “two states for two peoples” solution. We have no doubt on this proposition, particularly when it comes to the president’s personal intention, a Nobel Prize winner, a man who made “peace” and the “two-state solution” a paramount American interest. Ironically, the European countries have adopted use of the same phrase.

The peace process, however, is inconsistent with the continuation of settlements and the creeping annexation of land and sequential nibbling of fundamental rights. Therefore, if the situation continues, there will be nothing to negotiate, and negotiations will be a cover for Israeli expansionism. Unfortunately, this is the current position of the Palestinian Authority and the “Arabs.” In contrast, Israel wants peace and settlements to go hand in hand, a stance which has plunged the new American administration into a perpetual spiral of confusion, weakness and hesitancy.

What shall we do? A Question raised by Obama to his aides time and again. The answer is a little pressure on Netanyahu and loads of the same on Abbas. “We use the carrots with the two men, we promise Abbas a flood of assistance; as for Netanyaho a hope of normalization with the Arabs. Assure Abbas that the Palestinian State is imminent, and reassure Netanyahu about the “Iranian bomb”… Police support for Abbas and his security agencies, and conduct bigger and wider joint military exercises with the Israeli army in preparation to strike Iran and obstruct the path of its missiles.”

Read: Netanyahu’s clashes with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were blessings in disguise

All these recommendations are taken into account, and turned into an agenda for George Mitchell, during the past months, but little progress has occurred on the ground. Abbas took a step back by agreeing to attend the tri-lateral summit in New York before a settlement freeze. As for Netanyahu, he promised, verbally, to “slow” the settlements construction with the exception of Jerusalem and the block of large settlements beyond the Wall. Such limited progress was not enough to overcome the obstacle to resume the negotiations and to revive a “meaningful” peace process.

Again Obama returned the ball to his assistants: What shall we do?

The answer, this time, has come to him -and to us-by the National Security Adviser, General James Jones, who told the J Street,  a New Jewish pro two-state solution organisation: the negotiations would resume soon, however, without preconditions. The phrase “without preconditions” in the context has no meaning but abandoning the requirement to stop settlement building. It seems that the American Administration give up the possibility of convincing or pressuring Netanyahu, and therefore turned its back on Abbas’ conditions and demands.

In order not to look so blatant in its bias towards Israel, and expose America’s dramatic about-turn and its abandonment of Abbas and his tragic Authority, Jones came up with “the model of indirect negotiations” between the two sides – they are under way in any case- represented by Chief Palestinian negotiator and Isaac Israeli Molko and Mike Herzog, and the mediator between the two teams is George Mitchell.

We do not know if this is a U.S. attempt to search for a mere “exit” from the impasse in the negotiations and peace process. Neither do we know what the position of the Palestinian Authority would be over this attempt. What we are well aware of is that negotiations without stopping the settlement expansion, whether direct or indirect, is a paramount Israeli interest, and we have learnt from the hundred-year conflict, that Israel’s interest and the interest Palestinian never come together, let alone when it comes to the matter of paramount interests.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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