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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid