The end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

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There have been several efforts to reach a peace agreement between the parties. The reason I have more faith that there will be a solution this time is due to the coordinated initiative from USA and The Arab League together. Support from USA is crucial for Israel, just as the support from The Arab League is important to the Palestinians.

Saudi-Arabian initiative

During my meeting with the Saudi-Arabian crown prince in April he was dedicated to revive the peace plan that his country initiated in 2002 which was endorsed by all the member states of The Arab League. Israeli politicians have had their comments to the plan. The crucial point that should be emphasized in Israel is that the plan involves recognition of Israel by all the member states of Arab League. Saudi-Arabia called for an official answer to the plan from Israel, and announced an initiative accorded to USA to coordinate efforts for new negotiations. These efforts have been successful, according to statements from Secretary of State John Kerry.

Primary requirements

My meetings with President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and cabinet minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni have all brought up the expected requirement of Israel’s security as the main point for a future solution.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat stressed the issues of the borders between the two states and the refugee problem as the key points for the Palestinians during our meetings.

Tzipi Livni emphasized further: all the sensitive issues need to be brought up. Borders, security, settlements, refugee issue, and especially Jerusalem need to be addressed. The principle “nothing is resolved until everything is settled” will probably apply.
Both parties’ main demands are understandable and fair: the Palestinian demand for their own independent state, and Israel’s demand for arrangements that will guarantee their security. On this basis all the main issues need to be reviewed and painful compromises need to be made.

Willingness to negotiate
My impression after meetings with leaders on both sides as late as in June is that the willingness to find a solution is there. But there are difficulties on both sides:

The Palestinians are split between Hamas and Fatah who controls each part of a possible future Palestinian state. Two Prime Ministers leaving their post in a short time makes the situation further complicated. The question is if President Abbas is strong enough to make necessary compromises.

Israel has a government with several opponents of a two-state solution, and Prime Minister Netanyahu is considered to be restrictive. But he is strong enough to enter into an agreement and provide adequate support for it.

We face discussions that may be crucial to whether we can get a solution to “the mother of all conflicts”; the Israeli-Palestinian. It will take a lot of will and wisdom.

Published in Aftenposten 23rd of July 2013

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