“Some optimism is warranted as long as key international stakeholders play a constructive and supportive role in the new round of peace negotiations and direct negotiations between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that will take place in the near future,” he noted.
According to the Dutch politician, there are many issues that must be promptly solved.
“The key issues are clear – recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, borders, security, refugees, and Jerusalem – as well as the broad outline of a potential agreement: reciprocal recognition, land swaps, a military presence in the Jordan Valley, the right of return for a limited number of Palestinian refugees to Israel, and the division of Jerusalem under international oversight,” the author explained.
Commenting on the possibility of a peaceful solution, he emphasized the fact that Israeli Prime Minister is not such a ruthless anti-peace hawk as the analysts have been depicting him for years.
“The ‘experts’ were wrong. Netanyahu, that ‘enemy of peace,’ has turned out to be more reliable than they would have us believe. He joined the negotiations without preconditions and committed to the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, including some abhorrent terrorists. In his speech at the Saban Forum, Netanyahu declared that he was ready for a “historic compromise that ends the conflict […] once and for all” and that he was willing to “make even harder decisions to achieve peace.” Netanyahu has shown willingness to pay a steep political price for the ongoing negotiations. Of course, Bibi will not simply concede – he will demand something in return for every last inch he relinquishes. Yet, no one can deny that hawk Netanyahu has taken his seat at the table,” Han Ter Broeke emphasized.
According to him, Mahmoud Abbas, an already elderly statesman who is staying on his post only “to make this historic deal,” can be trusted as well, because he cannot afford the process to fail; however, he must act quickly.
“Although he is the only Palestinian leader capable of uniting the Palestinian factions, with the exception of Hamas, his popular support is in decline, and the success of his appeal for statehood at the United Nations was not only short lived but also exacerbated the rift between him and former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad,” the Dutch MP noted.
In his opinion, the President of Palestine cannot rely on the European Union (EU), which supports both the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and sanctions against companies that are active in the Palestinian territory.
Commenting the key roles of Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, Han Ter Broeke pointed out that the states of affairs of both politicians are similar in many aspects.
“Their own constituents will reject both a bad result and a stalemate. Abbas, unelected for seven years, can only open the polls if he can demonstrate success, and Netanyahu will be defeated in the next round of elections if he hasn’t made progress,” he noted.
According to the politician, a framework of a future agreement without any obligations may become a first step to the point when a peaceful solution becomes inevitable.
“Such a non-committal scheme removes any valid reason for either of the two men to back away,” he explained.
In his opinion, a mutual agreement between Israel and Palestine will be beneficial for both parties and will help improve security in the region.
“Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy (PA) have been successfully co-operating in security efforts in the West Bank. Additionally, the radical elements in the Palestinian territories that most threaten Israel’s security benefit from a weak PA and a frustrated Palestinian people; an agreement would weaken the radicals,” Han Ter Broeke pointed out.
According to him, the parties must act quickly. If Mahmoud Abbas is slow, he risks not achieving conditions which will be favorable for his people.
“If the US and Europe get tired or otherwise side tracked, any deal that is made will be less beneficial to the Palestinians,”
He also added that while for Palestine, a quick and peaceful solution means suitable conditions, for Tel Aviv, the agreement is also vital for preserving the country’s ideals.
“Israel wants to remain a liberal democracy, maintain the rule of law, and retain its Jewish character. If Israel does not concede land, it will fatally damage its democracy, the only one of its kind in the region. The only way to not let demographics abolish the Jewish majority is to put in place discriminatory legislation, strengthen the occupation, and deny the Palestinian right to self-determination. It functions as a zero-sum triangle. To keep land, Israel would have to forsake its Jewish character or its democracy. In short, both Israel and the Palestinians need an agreement, sooner rather than later,” he emphasized.
According to the Dutch MP, the time the parties have to resolve the conflict is almost out, because the other countries have grown weary from it.
“The Arab world is preoccupied with a worsening Sunni-Shia rift, and the US and European countries are losing their inclination to devote more time and effort to resolving this conflict, especially given the surfeit of other issues demanding their attention, including Syria, Iran, and Ukraine,” he explained.
In Han Ter Broeke’s opinion, the situation is worsened both by the activities aimed to escalate the conflict, like the BDS movement, and by the tensions that exist inside Tel Aviv.
“Some Israeli hawks are vocally pushing back against these ‘pointless peace talks.’ For example, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has made disparaging comments about Kerry; Likud members Danny Danon and Ofir Akunis have stated that a Palestinian state will never happen; and supreme hawk, member of the right-wing Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett has been a broken record about his party’s refusal to support a Palestinian state,” he explained.
Meanwhile, according to the author, the role of the European Union in this conflict is still not certain.
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