News You Really Need To See: “How the Middle East Peace Process Died”

“How the Middle East Peace Process Died”

The Atlantic, July 3, 2014

[The article’s quotes are from Martin Indyk, who recently stepped down as the Obama administration’s envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, in his first interview since so doing.] 

In the two decades since the Oslo Accords, a ‘a deep, deep skepticism’ about negotiations has taken root among Israelis and Palestinians, particularly among younger generations for whom Oslo is a distant memory, if a memory at all.  In particular, young Palestinians, who have ‘grown up under Israeli occupation’ and ‘seen [Jewish] settlements grow,’ have jettisoned hope ‘that the Israelis will ever grant them their rights.’  The majorities on both sides that once supported a two-state solution are no more.  Crucially, this corrosive mistrust extends to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen). … It is these fundamental divisions that … make Indyk so nervous about the current bout of violence between the two sides, following the murder of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.  ‘I fear the worst here,’ Indyk said.  ‘What you’ve got now is … a more rapidly deteriorating situation in which all of the worst fears and worst assumptions about the other side are being confirmed.’ … What caught Washington off guard was the Israeli government’s announcement, with each release of Palestinian prisoners, of plans for settlement units, many of which were outside the blocks [of existing settlements near Israel’s 1967 borders].  ‘The Israeli attitude is that’s just planning,’ Indyk noted.  ‘But for the Palestinians, everything that gets planned gets built. … And the fact that the announcements were made when the prisoners were released created the impression that Abu Mazen had paid for the prisoners by accepting these settlement announcements.’  Netanyahu may have simply been playing domestic politics and trying to placate the Israeli right-wing, but these announcements effectively humiliated Abbas.”

Quickie Analysis:  Indyk’s frank postmortem of the peace negotiations makes for interesting reading.  It also provides context for the violence now surging through Israeli and Palestinian streets.  

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