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A Praiseworthy Mideast Peace Perspective From Europe

A Praiseworthy Mideast Peace Perspective From Europe
A picture taken on July 7, 2017 shows a general view of construction work in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish settlement in the mainly Palestinian eastern sector of Jerusalem. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Mark L. Cohen By Friday, 07 July 2017 02:24 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

One new interesting idea on the Mideast peace process comes from a French journalist who believes that viewed from the distance of Europe the Trump administration has come to a very determined unambiguous conclusion, representing thinking outside the box and totally independent of articles, books, and seminars where there seems always to be a great divide between those who support the Arab position and those who support Israel.

This idea from Pierre Rahov published on June 30 in Le Figaro has eluded journalists in the U.S., and Washington insiders, but is based on a general overview of the workings of administrations in Washington.

What can be understood from the perspective of distance, as Alexis de Tocqueville demonstrated, is often more incisive, more focused, and in any event different from what we can see from close up.

The idea can be broken down into four parts, with part five the conclusion.

1) The Mideast peace process is completely paralyzed because neither Israel nor the Palestinians are willing to advance even in small and inconsequential ways.

2) The fundamental reason is that the Palestinians have been positioned in the role that the Arab world asked them to assume since 1948 (when they were designated as Arab, and not Palestinian, refugees by the Arab countries themselves), as victims whose fundamental rights have been violated.

3) The entrenched role of victim, the perfect mirror image of the Jew historically, puts the Palestinians in the position where practical political considerations are buried under by ideological legal positions that neglect the importance of improving their own social and economic and even political situation.

4) This has led to their refusal to accept the conditions agreed to by Israel during the Camp David peace talks in 2000, with Ehud Barak and Yasir Araft, and with Ehud Olmert in 2006 that were as balanced as anything even the most ardent peace proponents have advocated since then, where Jerusalem was accepted as the Palestinian capital and 98 percent of the West bank was to be returned. The unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, instead of leading to a rapprochement between the parties, led to the rise of Hamas and a hardening of positions.

5) The conclusion is that peace can come but only through participation directly and indirectly of the regional governments along with the United States.

The following facts are cited by the journalist that he believes have now been noted and distilled and clarified and formed into a Trump administration, or at least White House, policy:

- The Palestinian Authority has dedicated 7 percent of its budget to compensate convicted terrorists and their families as a reward for killing Israelis.

- The right of return that has been established as a first condition before even negotiations can begin would mean that with several million Arabs having the right to return and with the Palestinian State not itself willing to accept Jewish citizens we end up with two States for one People (instead of what had been and still is envisaged as two states, one for Jews the other for Arabs).

- The Palestinian education system has been based on ingraining children with the role of martyrdom and hatred of Israel and Jews, with Israel not appearing on maps of the world, a situation which the Institute for Peace and Cultural Tolerance and the UNRWA, the UN refugee commission that supports Palestinian Statehood, deplore.

- Mohammed Abbas has held onto power since the end of his initial mandate in 2009, by holding off Hamas, meaning that he is paralyzed to make concessions that even Arafat was willing to accept because if he does he risks loss of power and even assassination.

If the Palestinians have been set up as hostages or soldiers sitting on the front line for 70 years, their human problem can only be solved on a regional basis, with the full support of the Arab world which now may be prepared for geopolitical and regional reasons to abandon the Palestinian gambit, because despite that their cause has inspired wide international support their plight has no decent common comparison to what is happening in terms of hundreds of thousands of deaths and Arab human suffering throughout the region so can no longer serve the purpose of propping up authoritarian regimes.

The upshot is that the negotiation has to be regional.

The real parties are Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and perhaps depending on the present crisis, countries in the Persian Gulf.

It has been a fiction all along that the two principle parties alone could come to terms, even if Israel itself hid behind the notion that international involvement would be a brake not a facilitator for success. It has been also a displacement of real issues for the consensus to have been formed that Israel West Bank settlements are the most serious obstacle to peace even if Israeli government policy on this and other issues can be seriously criticized.

The representatives of the Palestinian people are of course essential participants.

But the condition to Palestinian sustenance and stability is the international donor community (nations including the Arab neighbors and institutions) and the obvious connection between this lifeline and politics means that the process itself cannot take place in isolation.

With the billions in investments having made to the Palestinians, even with terribly substantial sums having been siphoned off through corruption, a business negotiation approach dictates that the principal financial backer, the United States, insists that you cannot make progress if the reality of the financial interests and dependencies are not taken into account.

At least this is the reading of what the White House team may just be thinking behind what has been very carefully locked closed doors.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l’EDHEC. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The Mideast peace process is completely paralyzed because neither Israel nor the Palestinians are willing to advance even in small and inconsequential ways.
israel, peace, palestinians
Friday, 07 July 2017 02:24 PM
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