The Israel-Palestinian peace process has been put on ice, and now begins the finger pointing. If you’re trying to make sense of it all, as I am, take a look at the three articles I’ve cited below.
In a not-for-attribution interview with Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea, American officials involved in the peace talks mostly blamed Israel:
There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort's failure, but people in Israel shouldn't ignore the bitter truth - the primary sabotage came from the settlements. The Palestinians don't believe that Israel really intends to let them found a state when, at the same time, it is building settlements on the territory meant for that state. We're talking about the announcement of 14,000 housing units, no less. Only now, after talks blew up, did we learn that this is also about expropriating land on a large scale. That does not reconcile with the agreement.
Even if you don’t accept this interpretation at face value (the Washington Post editorial cited below provides a very different understanding), it’s clear that it will now become the official version of events, much the same way that Bill Clinton’s public utterances in the wake of the failed Camp David accords became the official take on those negotiations.
It’s important to remember, however, that notwithstanding Israel’s alleged role in the collapse of this latest phase of the peace process, Israel has generally been much more eager and persistent than the Palestinians in pursuing a two-state solution. Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg has this to say:
Over time I’ve noticed that Kerry and President Barack Obama often neglect to mention a true, and relevant, fact about the pursuit of peace in the Middle East: The Israelis pursued a two-state solution even before there was an Israel. The Palestinians, and their Arab advocates, have rejected each previous attempt to bring about such a solution. This does not absolve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government of its responsibility to stop settling its citizens on the West Bank. But it does suggest something about ultimate culpability.
So where do we go from here? The Washington Post editorial board has some interesting thoughts:
Low-profile but practical measures by both Israel and the United States would be far more helpful. There is much Israel could do to free up movement in the West Bank…Mr. Kerry once spoke of launching an economic development plan for the West Bank; now would be the time to see that through. The United States should also seek to reverse the deterioration of Palestinian government…Corruption has steadily increased, as have human rights abuses. New elections should be held, with the proviso that groups advocating violence are excluded. Palestinian statehood must be built on the foundation of working democratic institutions. The Obama administration should place that principle at the center of a new, more pragmatic policy.
The public narrative on the failure of the peace process is being written as we speak. Read these articles, and contribute to the discussion!