The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian struggle has become a conflict centred around identity, nationalism, security dilemmas and resource scarcity that has created, or even, reinforced the differences between the Palestinians and the Israelis. From the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 following the termination of the British Mandate it is evident that the conflict is and continues to be externally created but internally maintained. Can Trump end the many years of failed peace talks and problematic conflict resolution?
Yesterday, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry on behalf of the Obama administration organised final peace talks to try and settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before Trump takes office. 70 Countries were involved in Paris, where the likes of Key European states and U.N security council members took part but neither Israel or Palestine were represented. As expected, reaching peace with neither Palestine or Israel present would be impossible and the meeting ended with a communique maintaining a two-state system is needed for peace. Again, resolving nothing and reiterating the failure of the Obama presidency in regards to reaching peace in the Middle East.
Netanyahu, a clear supporter of Donald Trump who has praised his victory, said on Sunday that “this conference is among the last twitches of the world of yesterday … Tomorrow will look different and that tomorrow is very close.”
Thus, with a new president, arrives a new attempt at peace-making and with Donald Trump taking office in a matter of days, it shall be interesting to see if the new administration can break the mould and finally reach peace settlements to the 100-year conflict which previous presidents have evidently failed.
Trump, has previously stated that he would ‘love’ to find peace in the Middle East and there is growing talk that son-in-law, Jared Kushner an Orthodox Jew and grandson of Holocaust survivor is a strong advocate for brokering Middle Eastern Peace.
Consequently there is the likelihood that the Trump Administration will adopt an extreme Pro-Israeli stance, perhaps making him the most Pro-Israeli president to ever grace the White House. He has previously stated that he wants to move the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been situated for 68 years, to Jerusalem which has caused concern with the Obama administration affirming the unilateral decision will escalate or even worsen tensions on the ground.
Israel will also be keen to reach a deal which will expand Israel’s West Bank Settlements as they were heavily criticised by Obamas U.S Policy. Worryingly, this land is also disputed with the Palestinians and volatility is high with 600,000 Israelis currently residing there.
If I had a say, Trump or his advisors should act upon the crisis with the interest of both sides but not just from a heavy diplomatic level but one that rises from the grassroots of both communities and upwards. Improving the Palestinian economy, infrastructure and general way of life will successively stop the ethno-nationalist and psychological barrier of separation and hostility of the Palestinian community Vs Israelis. Equally, Israelis may have to learn and refrain from negatively stereotyping the Palestinians as being violent or dishonest Arabs.
Certainly, an extremely robust and assiduous diplomatic effort should be focused on which shall reject the need of violence or conflict. At the same time, diplomacy should be strong enough for both sides to address their differences and uncertainties. A major turning point, for instance, could be both sides understanding that there are two national movements which require two national states. Although clearly easier said than done. On the other hand, Israel could agree to stop expanding illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.
In addition, Privacy should be a major prerequisite for any major peace-making effort and one that has been perpetually ignored in past efforts. Obama’s attempt to force Yasser Arafat to reach an agreement and sign it publicly, in my opinion, was a major blunder which went against and humiliated Arafat in front of the entire Arab world.
Similarly, the infamous Oslo Agreement in 1993 displayed a clear sense of awkwardness between the public encounter. Although initially successful, the peace process crumbled with Israelis claiming that Palestinians resulted back to violence and other claiming that Israel revoked their side of the deal. Unfortunately, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the then Prime minister in 1995 destroyed the peace efforts which links back to teaching the nations of mutual acceptance from the grass-roots up.
To successfully reach a peace agreement, Trump must take both states into consideration and be cautious of overly-favouring Israel which is becoming increasingly more likely and will cause mass upheaval and further problems for both states.
Trump has shocked us with the elections but will he shock us with the Israel-Palestine Conflict? Only time can tell.