America’s falling stock in the Israeli-Palestine peace process

Palestine Update 301


America’s falling stock in the Israeli-Palestine peace process
There is little doubt that the political influence of the USA is in sharp decline around the world in a range of arenas. When it comes to the Middle East, the US now carries the image of a political phony and deceitful broker. Hopefully it will loose its preeminence despite its assertion of being leader of the free world.

Until now, Israel never had cause to fear that the US would switch its unyielding pro-Israel stance and, instead, opt for a politically safe political corridor. Trump’s actions in the region are emerging as rather shaky.  Israel looks on with horror at the way Trump has abandoned the Kurds. The inertia with the much trumpeted deal of the century is also cause for concern. Trump might have his Trump Heights in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights and an Embassy in Jerusalem. Those tedious and dim decisions have not caused a runoff from other countries into Jerusalem with their embassies. Except for a handful of politically lightweight countries, no one else has expressed intent to move to Jerusalem. They know how counterproductive and illegal that decision can be.   

In a recent YouGov survey, a majority of Arabs handed Japan a 56% preference to be mediator for a new peace process. The EU ranks a distant second with a 15% preference vote. The USA comes in with a low 11% and the UK with a mere 5%.

You can say the world is changing upside down. The US has proven that it is too one-sided to be accepted as a trusted mediator. The EU has proven that it is far too opportunistic for the job. European countries have pretended for too long that they really care. They are a political bloc that is steadfastly colonialist and hence, pro-Israel and, plainly, the sun has long set upon the British Empire.

What all this amounts to is that that Palestinians are left hanging fire wondering what their fate will eventually be. Given the sluggishness of the international community, many Palestinians expect nothing. Western power is unavailable to any real solution.

As has been repeated several times in our issues of Palestine Updates, it is time for the Peace process to breathe in fresh air with alternative, reliable and steadfast partners. That, on its own, may not guarantee the desired results given a cock-eyed world order and a UN system where votes are cast in irrational ways and not on rooted in justice. But that is not enough reason to abandon the search for alternative paradigms that will bring a Just Peace to Palestine

Ranjan Solomon    

Japan is Arabs’ favored Middle East peace mediator, poll finds

Representative of Japan in Palestine, attends a kite flying event with Palestinian children in  Gaza

Japan could potentially be a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At least that is what the majority of Arabs in a YouGov survey hope for. The study looked at Arabs’ perception of Japan, polling the views of 3,033 people from the GCC, the Levant and North Africa.

When asked to name the most neutral mediator for a possible peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, Japan was ranked first by 56 percent of Arab respondents, followed by the EU at 15 percent and Russia at 13 percent. This is an overwhelming majority, considering the US only received 11 percent approval and the UK 5 percent.
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Does Israel have something to fear from Donald Trump?

The Israelis are concerned that Trump will change his mind about supporting them in the same cavalier way that he switched his position with regard to the Kurds.

As a direct result of President Donald Trump’s precipitous withdrawal of American forces from Syria, Israel’s strategic situation deteriorated significantly overnight. In the preceding period, Israel was part of an informal anti-Iran coalition that includes Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates and had the backing of the United States. There have been numerous and growing contacts among Israel and the Arab states, which for decades were among Israel’s sworn enemies. There were even some discussions that Israeli warplanes might refuel in Saudi Arabia on their way back from striking Iran. Trump’s peace plan was based on these Arab states recognizing Israel and pressuring the Palestinians to make major concessions.
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U.N. investigator says expectations low for Trump’s peace plan
Expectations for the success of the Trump administration’s peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear to be very low, UN special investigator Michael Lynk told reporters at the United Nations in New York ahead of US special envoy Jared Kushner’s arrival to Israel this week. Kushner, who has taken the lead on the Trump peace plan, is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz to discuss the plan. Kushner’s assistant, Avi Berkowitz, is expected to join as well. No date has been set for the release of the political component of the plan, but it is presumed that it would only be published after the formation of a government. “There seems to be a very low expectation that [the peace plan] would have much meaningful impact on the ground, if and when it ever winds up getting released,” said Lynk, who is the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.

He spoke about the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its continued “occupation” of the West Bank. Right-wing Israelis hold that Area C of the West Bank, and certainly the settlements located there, should be annexed to Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would annex the settlements, should he become prime minister. It is widely believed that the Trump peace plan would allow Israel to retain the settlements.

Lynk holds that settlement activity is a war crime. Both he and the UN support a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines, a move that would have to include the evacuation of some 130 settlements that are home to more than 430,000 Israelis. Lynk said that any peace plan put forward by the United States must adhere to international law; a move which he holds would make it impossible for it to include the settlements.
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Why what Elizabeth Warren said this week on Israel matters
Left-wing Jewish activists have been ambushing Democratic presidential candidates at campaign events for months, asking them to outright condemn Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. One of their tactics is to ask the candidates whether they would consider withholding aid from Israel to get it to change its policies.

This past week they got results, kind of. While Bernie Sanders has endorsed the idea for decades (since he was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont), now Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have said they won’t count out that maneuver. Despite the room for interpretation, their comments are a big deal. Here’s why.

What they said. For all the Twitter mileage from the news won by the groups IfNotNow and J Street, the candidate statements were less than committal.Warren appears to have fielded questions on the issue in South Carolina and Iowa. The clip from Iowa is longer and more to the point. “Right now, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu says that he is going to take Israel in a direction of increasing settlements. That does not move us toward a two-state solution,” the Massachusetts senator said. “It is the official policy of the United States of America to support a two-state solution, and if Israel is moving in the opposite direction, then everything is on the table.” Pressed if that means she would freeze aid, Warren repeated, “Everything is on the table.”
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