Israel and Palestine’s Peace Problems

As talks continue between Israel and Palestine, the world once again finds itself cautiously optimistic about the prospect of fair and lasting peace. However, this is not the first time this game has been played, and regardless of Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts, it seems as though Israeli and Palestinian negotiators alike will run into the same problems that all negotiators have: there is currently no fair way to solve their problems.

Regardless of prospective solutions to the issues of territory, settlements, security, economy, Jerusalem, refugees, and more, there are currently no solutions that are fair to both parties. In every instance, both parties would need to make tremendous sacrifices to even come close to an agreeable proposal.

Territory is so hotly contested that they can’t even decide what to call the territories in the area, or the region itself. By now, most of everyone can agree that Palestinians deserve ample accommodation and Israel needs to maintain enough territory to ensure its own security.

However, where is the line drawn? This is the crux of all questions regarding the peace efforts. With such different perspectives on what is fair and reasonable, it becomes apparent that any solution would be a hard pill to swallow for both parties.

Once again, consider territory. President Obama infamously suggested that territory should be negotiated on the basis of pre-1967 borders. Israeli and Republican leaders alike had a heyday with that idea, suggesting that the president is entirely naive in regards to Israel-Palestine. In the same sense, leaders of groups such as Hamas refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist at all. Leaders are so far off the mark that it is hard to imagine a scenario where true reconciliation is possible.

However, these sentiments are at least understandable. Both parties view the problems in entirely different lights for good reason. Israel frames the peace process as unfair from the start. They are the only ones giving; they are the ones making sacrifices. Palestinians see the entire process as unfair because they were caught in the middle of and lost their land from wars they never waged. In fact, there is no Palestine to speak of as a result of factors that were largely out of their own control.

Recent polls show that 87% of Israelis believe that the current talks will fail. With so many issues and interests at stake, it is difficult to disagree with that unfortunately bleak sentiment.

Yet, there is still some hope. Kerry’s plan, though it is yet to be unveiled, is taking a “carrot and stick,” approach to the table. The obvious “carrot” is peace, but financial rewards from across the globe would almost certainly sweeten any prospective deal. Both Israelis and Palestinians are deeply dependent on aid, and that is where the “stick” comes into play. The US and EU have both threatened to cut aid to both parties if they reject this prospective plan from Kerry.

Still though, questions linger as to how Kerry aims to solve the Israel and Palestine’s peace problems. Will settlers evacuate? What will become of Jerusalem and various holy sites across the territory? How will security be ensured long-term? All of these questions may have answers, but they are certainly not simple ones.

By Brett Byers-Lane

Jerusalem Post