Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Options for peace
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As the Israeli and Palestinian camps move further and further apart, it appears that direct negotiations will bring little advancement to the peace process.
In order to define the limits of the negotiating terrain and to stop the widening gap between the two parties, negotiators can no longer set aside the central issues of Jerusalem, territory and refugees. During this time of minimal progress in bilateral talks, it is worthwhile to examine possible regional and international peace initiatives that might help restart the peace process.
The Amadeus Institute will host a half-day of discussion and debate dedicated to new peace initiatives at the 2010 MEDays Forum in November.
U.S. coordinated direct negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority will begin on September 2, 2010 (Israel, Palestinians to Resume Peace Talks September 2,” Associated Press, 20 August 2010; Stolberg, Sheryl Gay and Mark Landler. “U.S. and Israel Shift Attention to Peace Process,” New York Times, 7 July 2010) . While this may seem like progress, the potential for a much needed breakthrough in the peace process is unlikely, because the two camps have moved farther apart over the past several years (Bronner, Ethan. “In Mideast Talks, Scant Hopes From the Beginning,” New York Times, 20 August 2010; Danin, Robert. “The Daunting Prospects for Mideast Talks,” Council on Foreign Relations, 20 August 2010; Levy, Daniel. “Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Resume- no Fanfare and no New Peace Religion,” Foreign Policy, 14 May 2010). Since the election of Netanyahu in Israel in April 2009, Israeli religious conservatives have gained a greater voice in the country’s policy, and most particularly on the issue of Palestine. The Netanyahu government has directly challenged the United State’s calls for a complete stop on the construction of settlements (Bronner, Ethan. “In Mideast Talks, Scant Hopes From the Beginning,” New York Times, 20 August 2010; Danin, Robert. “The Daunting Prospects for Mideast Talks,” Council on Foreign Relations, 20 August 2010; Levy, Daniel. “Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Resume- no Fanfare and no New Peace Religion,” Foreign Policy, 14 May 2010) . Additionally, even after the flotilla incident of May 2010, the blockade on Gaza is only slowly changing (Frenkel, Sheera. “With Obama Meeting Tuesday, Israel Eases Gaza Blockade,” McClatchy Newspapers, 5 July 2010). On the Palestinian side, internal divisions between Fatah and Hamas prevent a unified negotiating position. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not see direct negotiations as a worthwhile endeavor at this time (“Egypt: Obama Has ‘Committed to Exerting Efforts towards Direct Peace Talks,’” The Associated Press and Haaretz, 28 July 2010) . As achieving peace through bilateral talks between Israel and the PA becomes less likely, it is essential to reexamine the determining factors of final status negotiations and discuss possible regional and international solutions which might bring about positive change.