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Can the US be replaced as peace broker?

Dec 26,2017 - Last updated at Dec 26,2017

Despite world-wide sympathy for the Palestinians in the wake of the unilateral American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, reaction to President Mahmoud Abbas' declaration that Washington has disqualified itself as an honest broker and was no longer accepted as a peace mediator has been mostly muted. Abbas has gone as far as saying that he was rejecting beforehand any peace proposal that is expected to come from the White House next year. He might have gone too far with such assertions.

It is true that President Trump's Jerusalem declaration constituted a departure from a 50-year bipartisan policy on Jerusalem and is now perceived as a reckless shift in US position. It is also true that, as French President Emanuel Macron told Abbas in Paris last week, that the US may have marginalised itself as a mediator. Furthermore and in the view of many, the US announcement, vague as it was, has delivered a fatal blow to more than 25 years of US-sponsored negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. But to believe that the US has no place in a future peace settlement is fanciful at best.

For now, contacts between the White House peace team and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have been suspended, at Abbas' orders. The ageing Palestinian leader is pushing ahead with unilateral actions of his own; requesting membership in 20 UN and international bodies and mulling ways to gain full recognition as a state under occupation. Israel will surely react and escalation by both sides will only complicate an already complex situation.

But when the current storm over Trump's decision dissipates — and it will at some point — the Palestinians will have to seek international endorsement for a resumption of peace talks under new circumstances. The biggest hurdle will come from Israel's side. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now relieved that he will not be under pressure to respond to any peace plan coming from Washington so long as the Palestinians maintain their rejection of US mediation. Furthermore, he can stick to his position that only Washington is recognised by Israel as an honest broker.

The Palestinians need to think clearly about their options. They can take their case back to the UN, but with US objections they are not expected to achieve much. Replacing the US with another player, like France or Russia, will not work and neither country has expressed willingness to do so. Reviving the role of the International Quartet is an option and the Palestinians can request that other countries and bodies join in, but while this move will enjoy international support it will have to cross the US and Israeli hurdles.

The sad fact is that even as the US loses some of its control in this region, as Russian and French influence gain traction, the special relationship between America and Israel will not be affected any time soon and the same applies to Washington's griphold over peace negotiations.

Added to Palestinian frustration is the fact that Iran's regional threat continues to overshadow the issues of Israel's occupation and the two-state solution as the only mean to end it. Since the Palestinians have turned their backs on Washington, the Trump administration may decide to put off plans to unveil its own peace proposal leaving Abbas to hang out to dry.

Waiting it out, as in holding his position until the Trump era is over, may prove suicidal for Abbas. Israel will use the diplomatic hiatus to speed up plans to colonise what remains of East Jerusalem and alter its cultural and demographic character forever. Else he can step down and allow a new leadership to take over and perhaps resume contacts with the Americans.

Meanwhile, Abbas must remove remaining obstacles threatening the fragile and shaky reconciliation efforts between Palestinian factions. He must give the go-ahead to plans to reform and restructure the Palestine Liberation Organisation as the only all encompassing national platform. And he must be ready to take drastic measures that could include the disbanding of the PA to raise the cost of Israel's occupation. Unless Israel feels the need and the urgency to conclude a peace deal with the Palestinians it will never be compelled to come to the negotiations table.

It took more than two decades for Abbas to realise that the United States cannot be an honest broker or fair mediator. He is now convinced that it should not hold an exclusive right to such mediation. Instead the stark reality is that the US is the only country that, in theory, can apply pressure on the Israelis. And as we have seen during the Obama presidency there are limits to US sway on Israel. Abbas needs the international community to convince the US to do so. After all is said and done and unless the regional balance of power changes dramatically the US role in finding a lasting peace remains essential and indispensable.

 

 

Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

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FOR HATEM, I HAVE TO REMIND YOU ABOUT SOME OF THE DOCTRINES OF LAWYERING THAT IS BASED ON THE LETTER OF THE LAW BUT NOT ON THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW. I AM A US CITIZEN, VERY ACTIVE IN POLITICS AND IRONICALLY A VERY STRONG FRIEND OF IRSAEL SO THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF THE RIGHT AND THE LEFT. MR HATEM SHOULD REWIND THE SPEACH BY FRANCE AND UK DURING THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE. YOU CAN NOT TELL ME THAT THE WHOLE WORLD IS WRONG ON THIS ISSUE. MR TRUMP BY THE WAY SAID QUOTE!! "ONE OF OUR FINEST FEDERAL JUDGE CAN NOT BE FAIR BECAUSE HE IS HISPANIC & MEXICAN" BUT THE JUDGE WHO HAVE PRE-JUDGED THE OUTCOME OF A CASE IS FAIR AND CAN DELIVER A FAIR JUSTICE. THIS HYPOTHESIS IS DELUSIONAL AND NOT FRIENDLY TO THE WORLD PEACE AND STABILITY. THE PROBLEM HERE IS WHY NOW?. WHY IS IT THAT A FAIR JUDGE AND JURY CAN LIT A MATCH ON AN INFLAMABLE CASE. IS 50 YEARS OF THE STATUS QUO NOT ENOUGH? WHY ARE WE EVEN PLAYING POLITICS WITH A MIXTURE OF PETROL AND TOBACCO LIGHTER?. EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENT AND ADMINISTRATION OF OUR POWERFUL COUNTRY HAVE PLAYED IT SAFE TO MAINTAIN THAT JERUSALEM ISSUE IS THE LAST TOPIC OF THIS DISPUT. I AM NOT A PALESTINIAN, NOT FROM THAT REGION BUT OLD AND EDUCATED ENOUGH TO KNOW AND SEE WHEN " THINGS FALL APART ". WHAT HAPPENS NOW IF ALL ARAB COUNTRIES RECOGNISE THE PALESTINIAN STATE WITH CAPITAL IN JERUSALE?. WHAT PREVENTS ALL OTHER COUNTRIES THAT SEE THIS AS UNFAIR AND INHUMAN FROM OFFICIALY RECOGNISING PALESTINE WITH CAPITAL IN JERUSALEM?. WHAT MAKES A JUDGE? WHY DO WE HAVE THE SEPERATION OF POWERS BETWEEN THE EXECUTIVE AND THE JUDICIARY?. MR HATEM IS MIXING OIL AND WATER BY PROPOSING THAT POWER IS A MAJOR FACTOR THAT MUST DETERMINE HOW WE LIVE, JUDGE, RULE AND THROW OUT TRUTHFUL AND HONESTY BECAUSE OF PROTECTION AND HAND OUTS?. RATHER THAN ENCOURAGING BOTH SIDES TO SIT TOGETHER AND MAKE PEACE, WE CAN NOW SEE HOW PEOPLE ARE PLAYING GAMES WITH THE LIFE AND LIBERTIES OF BOTH SIDES. IS MR HATEM SPEAKING FOR THE ARAB LEADERS WHO ARE BOUNCING ALL OVER THE PLACE ON THIS ISSUE FOR THE SAME REASON THAT HE IS CITING, " POWER IS THE LAW". I CAN NOT BELEIVE THAT SOMEONE CAN EVEN THINK THIS WAY NEVER MIND EXPRESSING THIS VIEW IN PUBLIC. WHAT IS NEEDED IS PEACE AND WE CAN NEVER GET THERE UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL PERCEPTION THAT WE CAN DO NO WRONG BY USING OUR POWERS. PLEASE GO AND READ THE ANIMAL FARM BY GEORGE OWEL. WE THE PEOPLE OF USA ALWAYS WANT PEACE AND STABILITY OF THE WORLD AND THE WORLD ALWAYS WANT US TO LEAD AND SHOW EXAMPLE AND SO WE ARE THE SALT OF THIS PLANET AND CAN NOT AFFORD TO LOOSE OUR TEAST. IN THE WORLD THAT WE ALL LIVE TODAY, WE HAVE ALWAYS REJECTED THE WINNER TAKES ALL AS SOLUTION TO ANY CASE.

The writer of the article didn't say that the United States is an honest broker, as a matter of fact he ended his piece by saying that the US is " essential " and " indispensable " . The United States has always been on the Israelis side, they never denied it. The congress always votes for laws that supports Israel the 1995 Jerusalem law is a classic example. The supreme court stands on the Israelis side so is the executive branch represented by Donald Trump. That in itself isn't a reason to dismiss the brokership efforts of the American Administration and consider it inconsequential.The United States as far back as the sixties was the wealthiest and the most powerful country on earth. President Nasser of Egypt admitted in one of many of his fiery speeches.Dismissing the United States influence is not the right thing to do, it will give the Israelis free hand to do whatever it wants with the Palestinian land and people. We have no choice but to keep the United States an active participant and an integral part of this long conflict. Putting the United States on the fringe will hurt the Palestinian cause tremendously, it may even bring it to a state of insolvency.The Palestinian authority needs to think rationally and not emotionally because like the article correctly stated the protests and the raucous will eventually dissipates but the plight of the Palestinians will linger on.

THIS ARTICLE IS A SHAM, SYMBOL OF SURRENDER AND HAS NO LEGAL BASIS. HOW CAN ANY PLAINTIF OR DEFENDANT CONTINUE TO APPEAR TO THE SAME JUDGE AND JURRY FOR 25 YEARS ONLY TO BE BRIBED WITH AID WHILE THE SLIPPERY SLOE OF HUMILIATION CONTINUE. AN HONEST BROOKER IS ONE WHO IS NEUTRAL, FAIR AND REFRAIN FROM INFLAMING PASSION IN A ONE SIDED MANNER. MR ABBAS IS CORRECT AND SHOULD NOT CHANGE HIS STAND AS 25 YEARS IS MORE THAN A LONG TIME. ALSO MR ABBAS SHOULD ALSO NOTIFY ALL THE ARAB LEADERS TO EITHE JOIN HIS POSITION OR GET OUT. THE UN SHOULD FORM A COMMITTEE AND CHARGE IT WITH JUSTICE AND IMPOSE A SETTLEMENT AS WE DID IN ALL OTHER DISPUTS AND WARS IN THAT REGION. IF WE CAN USE FORCE IN SYRIA, IRAQ AND LYBIA BY HIDING BEHIND THE BACK OF UN, THE SO-CALLED UN SHOULD ALSO PICK UP THIS UNFORTUNATE CRISIS AND STATE OF WARS WITH OUT END. WHAT IS GOOD FOR DICK SHOULD ALSO BE GOOD TO HARRY. THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CAN NO LONGER CONDUCT KANKARO COURTS WITH PEOPLES LIFE AND LIBERTY. GIVE PEACE A CHANCE AND SOMETIMES PEACE CAN ONLY COME WHEN PEOPLE DEMAND THEIR RIGHTS AT ANY COST.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I beg to disagree. The US is of course on Israel's side. They even do not make any secret about it. Consequently the US cannot be an impartial player. Yes, they can and have to play a role in the peace process, but not as an impartial party. May I suggest that we need a totally neutral party. The UN is not suitable, because of the US veto power in the Security Council. We need a totally neutral agent, such as Switzerland. (I also can offer my services).

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