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July 26th, 2013, by Daniel Levy

Daniel Levy

The Peace Process is Back

 

There are very good reasons to doubt that a revived peace process will deliver a two-state deal, or even much by way of progress. Kerry’s statement was rife with uncertainty regarding exactly when the talks would happen, and what agenda they would address. Nor does it help that Israeli government ministers rushed to retake pledges of loyalty to the settlement project, or that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will sit down at the negotiating table without any of the prerequisites he had outlined as the basis for a meaningful process.

The domestic politics of each major player in the peace process also should be a reason for caution. Much of the Israeli cabinet seems to prefer annexation of the Palestinian territories over a two-state outcome, the Palestinians remain politically divided and weak, the major Arab countries remain fixated on instability at home, and the Americans remain politically timid. Yet well-placed caution — and even pessimism — should not translate into defeatism, which risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

President Barack Obama’s administration deserves credit for having understood from day one the significance of the Israel-Palestine issue for the region, and for how America is perceived there. Even amid so much upheaval, from Syria to Cairo, this issue retains its iconic status and remains an albatross around Washington’s neck. Kerry also deserves credit for having taken that commitment to a new level with his personal engagement, visiting the region six times since becoming secretary of state.

Though cynics may say otherwise, there is a value in having overcome the impasse of endless talks about talks and the pre-negotiation blame game. Beyond putting an end to the bizarre spectacle of Benjamin Netanyahu playing the role of “The Shunned Suitor of the Palestinians,” here are five things this latest attempt to revive the peace process has going for it.

 

Read Daniel Levy’s article in its entirety at Foreign Policy.

View Daniel Levy’s Global Experts profile.

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