News / Middle East

Can Arab Uprisings Further Mideast Peace Prospects?

A young Egyptian protester shouts slogans at Tahrir Square in Cairo, April 1, 2011
A young Egyptian protester shouts slogans at Tahrir Square in Cairo, April 1, 2011

While President Obama and other world leaders acknowledge that the Arab uprisings bring with them much uncertainty, they emphasize that the upheavals also can present new diplomatic opportunities. Mr. Obama spoke of those opportunities during a recent meeting in Washington with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"I think he [Peres] and I both share a belief that this is both a challenge and an opportunity - that with the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis," said the president.

Peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis have been held intermittently since the 1967 Middle East war when Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Israel withdrew from Sinai after a 1979 peace accord with Egypt, but has been occupying the West Bank and Golan Heights to this day.

The latest proposal to break the deadlock comes from a group of former Israeli defense officials who call for using the old 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations. Similar ideas have been proposed in the past, but all of them have failed.

David Makovsky is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He says vigorous U.S. diplomacy will be the key to taking advantage of any opportunities presented by the Arab uprisings.

"I think the best way to do it is for the U.S. to synchronize diplomacy. We have not been out in the region since December and we should go out there and say we need you [Palestinians] to cross the threshold, and we need you [Israelis] to cross the threshold," said Makovsky. "Each side I think is more likely to cross a historic threshold if it knows the other side is going to reciprocate. So there needs to be synchronization and I think only the U.S. is capable of doing this."

Whatever the U.S. role, Samer Shehata, a professor of political science at Georgetown University, worries that Israeli leaders may want to put a hold on peace talks with the Palestinians until the political situation in the Arab world settles down. After that, Shehata says, prospects for peace talks could be much better.

"One of the primary obstacles to achieving success in terms of negotiations and in terms of a lasting, just peace in the region has been the tremendous asymmetry of power between the Israeli side and the Arab side and the Palestinian side in particular," said Shehata. "In medium and longer term, with the new reality established and hopefully the balance of power quite different than what it is now presently, there will be greater incentive for Israel to seek a just and lasting peace in the region."

A view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel, according to a report by the Al-Jazeera TV channel quoting documents during peace talks in 2008, that Palestinians were prepared to compromise over two of the toughest issues, Jerusalem and refugees, Jan
A view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel, according to a report by the Al-Jazeera TV channel quoting documents during peace talks in 2008, that Palestinians were prepared to compromise over two of the toughest issues, Jerusalem and refugees, Jan

But Ziad Asali, president of the American Task Force on Palestine, is not so optimistic. He says Israel’s policy of expanding Jewish settlement in the occupied territories continues to be an obstacle to successful peace negotiations.

"Barring something unexpected, unusual, like a major initiative by Obama or something like this, I think there is a high possibility that the Palestinians will come to the U.N. General Assembly in September and ask for a recognition of the state of Palestine," Asali said.

One point on which most regional experts agree is that the uprisings sweeping through the Arab world could have a huge impact on the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Whether that impact is positive or negative depends, they say, on what kind of governments emerge from the current turmoil.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid