News / Middle East

Middle East Analysts Question US Diplomatic Peace Efforts

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell (l) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in Jerusalem, 20 May 2010
US Middle East envoy George Mitchell (l) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in Jerusalem, 20 May 2010
Meredith Buel

Israel and the Palestinians resumed peace talks in May, after a 17-month break in the negotiations.  The U.S. is once again facilitating talks between the parties in the latest effort to bring peace to the region.  Some Middle East analysts and former negotiators, however, are beginning to question the diplomatic approach to the conflict.

For nearly 40 years most U.S. presidents and their diplomats have been heavily involved in trying to bring peace to the Middle East.

Since the term peace process was coined and used by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who negotiated an end to the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War, America's highest level diplomats have made countless trips to the region in an effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Now U.S. envoy George Mitchell is trying to get the negotiators back to the table through indirect talks by shuttling between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

"I look forward to continuing our efforts to achieve comprehensive peace and security in the region, including a two-state solution," said George Mitchell.

Writing in the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Aaron David Miller, a veteran of the Middle East peace process who advised six U.S. Secretaries of State, says the region has changed dramatically, becoming what he calls "nastier and more complex."

Miller strongly questions whether U.S. President Barack Obama can accomplish what a long line of his predecessors failed to do.

"Can an American president substitute his own sense of urgency and leadership, for the absence of urgency, ownership and partnership in the region?  I think not, but that is the proposition that this president is about to test," said Aaron David Miller.

Miller's article has sparked conversation from Washington to Jerusalem, because the author says he is no longer a believer in the basic core principles of the peace process after decades of what he calls "inflated hopes followed by violence and terror."

Marc Lynch, the Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, agrees that a new approach is needed.

"After all these years of trying and failing to bring about Middle East peace and after the frustrations of the last year with the Obama administration trying so hard that maybe it is time to take a step back and rethink first principles [main beliefs]," said Marc Lynch. "In other words if you bloody your forehead by running into the wall a few times is the answer to move back and then run faster into the brick wall or is it to maybe try something different?"

Daniel Levy, Director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation, argues that so many factors affecting the peace negotiations have changed, that the approach itself must be altered to recognize the new realities on the ground.

"I don't get it," said Daniel Levy. "I don't get, when you are almost two decades into this, when in that two decades the Palestinian national movement has collapsed, the one significant event that happened in terms of withdrawal, withdrawal from Gaza happened outside the context of the peace process, the Israeli peace camp has collapsed, the historical national leader on the Palestinian side [Yasser Arafat] has passed away, etc., etc., that we are still trying to go about doing it the same way."

Rob Malley is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group.

Malley was a U.S. negotiator at Camp David in 2000, when the Israelis and Palestinians failed to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.  

That failure is often cited as a reason for the breakout of the second intifada, the violent Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

Malley says the current atmosphere in the Middle East severely hurts efforts to reinvigorate the peace process.

"I think we have to change the regional climate," said Rob Malley. "The notion that the U.S. is going to do something at a time when Syria, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, plus the echo chamber of Al-Jazeera, are going to be unanimously against what the U.S. is doing and when Egypt, Jordan and others are sort of losing steam seems to me to be a complete illusion, a myth."

Aaron David Miller, who also was a U.S. negotiator at Camp David, says he is concerned another failed round of peace talks could ignite more violence.

"It took a decade for the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, which is still broken, bloodied and battered as a consequence of the 10 years between the failure of Camp David and now to become marginally functional, what are the prospects and the implications and consequences of going into the breach one more time and not succeeding?  That is what I worry about," he said.

The Palestinians want a state in areas Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War, with East Jerusalem as a capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state, but with conditions and without East Jerusalem.

Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with President Obama at the White House June 1.   

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs