Posted by on June 05, 2014 in Blog

By Madelaine Assi
Summer Intern, 2014

The term “peace process” is often ambiguous to the general public. The image people tend to envision is one of high-level politicians discussing abstract concepts full of political jargon and tension. Unfortunately, most do not feel optimistic about peace processes in general, a reality that is becoming even more widespread for both Palestinians and Israelis.

While there are dozens of factors that actively affect peace processes, one of the most significant within the latest round of the recently-collapsed negotiations between Israel and Palestine have been the increasing demands by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Often trivial and frivolous, they serve to detract from more important issues such as the expansion of illegal settlements and other ongoing human rights abuses.

From demanding control of the Jordan Valley to prohibiting a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem to refusing to relocate any of the Israeli settlers who are illegally inhabiting territory in the West Bank and violating international law, it doesn’t seem like the Israeli government is willing to compromise much. The latest in demands came a month ago when Netanyahu insisted that Palestinians recognize Israel specifically as a Jewish state. It is becoming clear that Netanyahu is using these demands to create obstacles to the peace process.

Netanyahu’s actions were on full display last week. When the Palestinian unity government deal was officially sealed, which united previously opposing factions Fatah and Hamas, Netanyahu seized the opportunity to further complicate the peace process: by trying to undermine the Palestinian government as a whole. He is currently urging the world to not recognize the government as legitimate because of the members’ possible affiliation with Hamas. However, Abbas has stated clearly that the new government will not be comprised of distinctly Hamas or Fatah members, but rather solely as members of the Palestinian government. Netanyahu's attempts to undermine the Palestinian government is in effect beginning to undermine the entire peace process as a whole, resulting in major implications for the future of the entire region.

Palestinian unity is already a challenge with its disconnected territories, and Abbas has consistently recognized the increased divisiveness that the Hamas and Fatah split created. Abbas stated, “Today, with the formation of a national consensus government, we announce the end of a Palestinian division that has greatly damaged our national case.” Much to Israel’s chagrin, Secretary Kerry has agreed to work with the new interim Palestinian government so long as it upholds the principles of non-violence, negotiates with Israel, and maintains security protocols – ideals that were issued by the “Quartet” (United States, the European Union, United Nations, and Russia) in 2008.

The Quartet’s statement, which assumes a sense of reciprocity between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, was of course accepted by the Israeli government. However, upon closer inspection of Netanyahu’s cabinet, hypocrisy emerges as it becomes clear that two popular parties in Israeli government, Habayit Hayehudi and Likud (which is led by Netanyahu) have opposing viewpoints of their own toward official Palestinian statehood. It seems that at the most basic component to the peace process, recognition of the other to exist, falls short on behalf of the Israeli government – an unfortunate reality that some are likely unaware of.

Although there has not been a clear statement indicating why the most recent round of peace talks failed, the actions of the Israeli government, most notably the continued construction of settlements, have created a hostile environment that makes any negotiations nearly impossible. Between continued illegal settlements in the West Bank and an uncooperative Israeli government, it seems that Netanyahu government has no desire to establish a lasting peace with Palestinians.

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