Why the U.S., or Any Third Party, Will Fail at Solving the Israel–Palestinian Conflict

March 13 2018

In the coming days the Trump administration is reportedly poised to release its plan aimed at reviving the moribund peace process. Noting that, since 1948, Western leaders from Clement Atlee to John Kerry have attempted to negotiate a lasting agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and have failed every time, Amir Taheri suggests their experience should serve as a warning:

There are many reasons why so many prospective dealmakers have failed. The first is that peace is [almost] always imposed by the side that wins a war. There is scarcely an instance in history, which is primarily a narrative of countless wars, in which an outsider has imposed peace on unwilling belligerents. The second reason is that outside dealmakers have their own interests and agendas, which make an already tangled web even more complicated. . . . The third reason is that wannabe dealmakers do not fully appreciate the importance of the status quo, the reality on the ground.

Whenever a status quo is at least tolerable for both belligerents, the desire to risk it in the hope of an ill-defined peace is diminished. Many people in the world live with a status quo they don’t regard as ideal. . . .

Finally, and more importantly, there could be no deal and no peace unless and until those involved in a conflict desire it. . . . My bet is that, at this moment, . . . both [sides] are happier with the status quo than with the prolongation of a “peace process” that could never lead to peace and now is no longer even a process.

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Read more at Asharq Al-Awsat

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, Peace Process

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war