Friday, March 18, 2011

Western Negotiators Give Up on Israel-Palestinian Peace Process (At least for a few weeks)

By Barry Rubin

This is one of those buried news items that has much wider importance. After their umpteenth (a non-word used in English to indicate a very large number) attempt to bring progress in Israel-Palestinian peace, the Quartet (U.S., EU, Russia, UN) actually admitted (gasp!) that nothing is going to work at present.

Yes! They are actually going to go away for a few weeks before trying again. AND they didn't just blame Israel for the deadlock. Of course, some of the Europeans are thinking of just recognizing an independent Palestinian state, thus eliminating the need to have actual negotiations or give Israel any say in the matter. But that doesn't seem about to happen.

As I've pointed out previously, nothing at all is going to happen this year because the Palestinian Authority is putting all of its bets on getting this recognition. So why bother to talk to Israel? On the contrary, its interest is in proving that talks are hopeless. That's why, the Palestinian leadership is saying, it has to just be handed independence on a silver platter.

People ask me whether the latest upheavals in the Middle East will show people that it isn't all about Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. (In fact, it hasn't been--if it ever was--for about 30 years.)   My response is that objectively, of course, the obsession with Israel and the conflict doesn't make sense.

But then I list a lot of previous events that should have had that effect already. Some did, at least temporarily: the long conflict for hegemony among Arab states; Egypt-Israel peace; the failure of Arab states to help Syria and the PLO in the 1982 war; their growing indifference to the issue; the Iranian revolution and the rise of revolutionary Islamism; the Iran-Iraq war; the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait; and so on down to the present.

Perhaps the recent revolutionary upheavals in several Arab countries coupled with the obvious rise of Iran and its bloc will finally break the fanatical (because it's not  responsive to logic) belief by many in the West in "linkage." More realistically, these events might just put a dent into it.

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