Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Breaking the Israel-Palestine logjam

Stanly Johny, The Hindu

Image from article, with caption: Unequal relationship: “There is no level playing field between Israel and Palestine.” A Palestinian refugee holds a key symbolising the loss of his home, ahead of the 68th anniversary of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, in Qalandia refugee camp near Ramallah.

The Obama administration has been vocally critical about some Israeli policies. The personal equation between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is known to be tense. But in the UNSC, Mr. Obama has been a consistent protector of Israel. Over seven years, the U.S. has vetoed all Security Council resolutions specifically critical of Israel. Other Western countries are no exception. Take the case of France, which has organised the latest peace conference. Former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had said in January that France would unilaterally recognise Palestine as a nation state should the peace process fail. But Mr. Fabius has since been replaced by Jean-Marc Ayrault and France is no longer talking about recognising the Palestinian state.
The international community could actually take a lesson out of the Iran example. World powers were on the same page in putting pressure on Iran, through a mix of international sanctions and threats of isolation, over its nuclear programme. Even Iran’s allies such as Russia and China joined hands with the U.S. and Britain to build a global pressure regime which eventually worked in forcing Tehran to compromise. What was one of the most contentious global issues till a few years ago was settled amicably in a rare case of the triumph of public diplomacy. Why can’t a similar method be adopted in dealing with Israel, which is also a violator of accepted global norms? This is unlikely to happen immediately. But unless the Israeli exceptionalism is broken, there won’t be peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict. To break that, there has to be both carrots and sticks. Right now, there are only carrots in the kitty, plenty of them.

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