Monday, January 2, 2017

Give Peace A Chance?

So, just before Christmas the United Nations passed a resolution rebuking Israel for it's continued settlement activity in The West Bank. The United States abstained. And everyone lost their damn minds shortly after the fact.

Look, it's no secret that the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process is going nowhere fast. The Israelis have made serious, concrete offers before and the Palestinians have walked away every time. They're out of Gaza, the Palestinians are divided between Hamas and Fatah, in short- why should Israel cut a deal? What possible reason do they have to come to the table?

They don't have a reason. Plus- surprise, surprise- it doesn't appear that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is the biggest fan of President Obama, so he was all too eager to take a steaming hot dump all over the move by the US to abstain from the resolution. He knows what administration he's got coming in next January and he has no reason to play nice anymore.

Our allies weren't exactly best pleased either. British Prime Minister Theresa May weighed in and 'rebuked' the US over their abstention on the resolution. Australia followed suit

In general, the whole thing seemed like a massive waste of time designed to do who knows what. The overall reactions seems to have been: 'Guys, that's not helpful.' So, not exactly a banner day for American diplomacy. If it was a gambit designed to break the stalemate it was poorly executed. 

So where does that leave the peace process? 

Well, it's worth noting that despite media protestations to the contrary, President Obama hasn't been all that harsh with Israel. Both Bush the Younger and Bush the Elder allowed similar resolutions critical of Israel to get through the UN. Bush the Elder actually used a hefty loan as leverage to force a freeze on settlement building in the West Bank- so I think acting like President Obama is some sort of traitor to Israel is sort of ridiculous. A Google Search and thirty minutes one the internet will demonstrate just how wrong that notion is. While there are many fair criticisms to be leveled at the Obama Administration (I'm avoiding mentioning the words 'red line' and 'Syria' in the same sentence here) I don't think this one is fair. The Peace Process is moribund. While a sloppy and ill-conceived attempt to break the log jam, with time running out on their term in office, it was a Hail Mary pass worth taking.

What happens now? Not much of anything, I think. There's growing talk that maybe the two-state solution is dead- and maybe a one-state solution could be the answer. That could actually be the way forward for the Palestinians. It puts Israel in an uncomfortable position, as demographically, there are more Palestinians than Israelis- so do you become a bi-national relatively stable, democratic state and worry about the demographics down the road? Or do you preserve the cultural identity of the Jewish state? Given that choice then perhaps the two-state solution will have a bit of life in it yet. 

I don't know how big of a priority reviving the Peace Process will be for the incoming Trump Administration I'm betting it's not going to be on the top of their list. It's a sort of a depressing way to start the year, but it's a long year and given how tumultuous the region can be, who knows what could happen. Maybe peace will get a chance after all.

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