EU-Logos

The deal of the century highlights once again the crucial role covered by the US in the definition of the Middle East. The rumors about the plan that the Trump administration is preparing are very different and according the last statements, it will be published, following the Ramadan (a month fasting in Islamic tradition).

Therefore, the aim of this article is to clarify the main actors that are involved in the issue, trying to draw a fil rouge connecting the historical conflict steps and some new issues on the table.

The
first paragraph will be a historical framework with a focus on the conflicts
that marked the territory and the region, since the birth of the Israeli State.
In the second part, the focus will be on the two main peace processes,
considering the importance of the mediator and a good environment in both leaderships.
The third section will be an analysis of the “Deal of the Century”, which in
contrast to previous peace initiatives, can be seen as more predictable.

Conflicts timeline

The
conflict that characterizes the Middle East since the beginning of the XX
century has known different phases due to the results of the Second World War
and contextually the Cold War logics.

Moreover,
to understand how the situation escalated to what it is today, it is important
to consider the facts and events from the end of the Great War (1914-1918).[1]

Historical
Palestine is a region situated on the East coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in a
land comprised between Lebanon at north, Syria at north-east, Jordan at East,
and Egypt at south. The history of the nation-state determination in the Middle
East region derives from the dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, in the
aftermath of the Great War and the collapse of the Ottomans, the European
Colonial powers, such as the  United
Kingdom and France, started to wink at local authorities to implement their
influence over the region. [2]

This
geo-political operation is mainly known as the Sykes-Picot secret agreement,
which established the division of the sphere of influence among the two
European colonial countries. The division, as shown, in the fig.1, gives to the
British the direct control of the lands from Bagdad to Bassora (red zone), and
an influence on a land from Amman to Kirkouk. The French gained Lebanon, Syrian
coasts, Cilicia (blue zone), and a sphere of influence from Alep to Mosul.[3]

The
Palestinian land, within the agreement, was considered as an international zone,
because France was claiming the protection over Christian holy places, such as
Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. In the meantime, the Russian Church also
claimed the protection over the orthodox population in the same areas.

In this context of “no man’s land”, the British were solving the problem of the Jews’ promised land claim with the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. The declaration affirms that the Crown supports the establishment of Jewish national home over the Palestinian land, but with a simultaneous recognition of the civil and religious rights of the indigenous population -mainly Arab.

[4]

The
Arab population, at the time, constituted 90% of the Palestinian population.
with the British permit for the Jews national home, they saw their own self-determination
rights denied, despite the fact that also US President Wilson supported
strongly this right.

Consequently,
the Balfour Declaration installed the chaos in the Arab world which was already
weakened by the wars against the Ottomans.

In
1920, the newborn League of Nation attributed the complete mandate of the land
to the British.

During
the Second World War, it seemed that the Middle-East issue was hanging there
but suffering from “collateral damages” of a war fought far away. First, the
tragedy of the holocaust generated huge Jewish migration to the promise land and
second, the weakening of the British Empire after the war, gave birth to the
first UN resolution over a dispute land. In fact the UN General Assembly in
November 1947 adopted the 181 Resolution which foreseen the partition of the
Palestinian territory in two States, one for the Jews and the other for the
Arabs. The Arabic population rejected the plan. The 15 May 1948, the United
Kingdom claimed the end of his mandate over the land, and at the sunrise the
Jewish State was proclaimed. The Arab States (Egypt and Jordan) organized an
offensive plan which resulted in a failed military intervention due to lack of communication
and coordination between them. The uncoordinated offensive was even worst when the
“Muslim Brotherhood” entered the conflict. It was in January 1949 that Israel
won the conflict gaining the 77% of remaining land. Transjordan annexed the West
Bank and Jerusalem East. Only the Gaza strip remain independent. [5]

For
the Palestinian population this represented the catastrophic “Nakba”, not only
because they lost the possibility to have an independent state, but also
because a huge number of Palestinians (around 750000) left their territory and fled
in other neighboring countries where they took the refugees status.

The
Arab States signed an armistice with Israel in order to bring back the
normality, however this did not mean the recognition of the Jewish state.  The condition imposed for the recognition of
the Jewish state was the establishment of “the right to return” for the displaced
Palestinians.

In
1964, Abdel Nasser -the Egyptian President- promoted the creation of the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which aimed at unifying the leadership
of all clandestine Palestinian resistance movements. The first situation in which
the POL was directly involved was the Six-Day War in 1967. After this moment,
the PLO started to be internationally recognized. In 1967, Syria and Egypt
attacked Israel that demonstrated a strong defensive force and further
established Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and Sinai
Peninsula, while drove Jordanian Forces from the West Bank.[6]

The
year 1973 marked an important step for the development of the Arab-Israeli
conflict. During the Israeli Holy Day of Yom Kippur, Egypt and Syria coordinated
another military offensive. In contrast to previous wars and attacks, this, orchestrated
by the Arabs, was  better coordinated and
shown an unexpected warfare strategy. Nevertheless, the Israeli army needed few
military operations to win again. Consequently, Egypt first and Syria later
signed a cease-fire agreement, which became later a peace agreement.[7]

In
1979, under the Camp David Accords, the Egyptian government recognized the State
of Israel after Israel gave the Sinai penninsula back to Egypt. In 1982, several
weeks after the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai, tensions with the Palestinians
emerged again. Simultaneously, the Israeli started to bomb Beirut, a city known
for its Palestinian refugees. Meanwhile Israel started bombing the Lebanese
borders. Israel invaded the south of Lebanon and the PLO moved under
international protection away from the country. Three years later, in 1985, the
Israeli army withdrawn entirely from the country.[8]

In
2006, Hezbollah[9]
started a military action against Israel who responded with a stronger action.
The war lasted 34 days, causing thousands of deaths and millions of displaced people.
This initiative from Hezbollah was heavily criticized by the Arab League. [10]

It
is clear that the complexity of the Palestinian and Israeli situation cannot be
explained simply with a short sequence of conflict over 60 years, but it is
necessary to have a frame in which contextualize all the future development of
the issue.

[11]

The Peace processes

In
this section, two different moments of the peace process will be analyzed in
order to compare the similarities and to try to understand why most of the
peace initiatives can be considered as a failure. The first one is the Oslo
Agreement in 1993 and the second is the Annapolis Conference in 2007. It seems
evident that these two elements will not be enough to understand the complexity
of the situation and the power dynamics, but it can be a good starting point to
analyze Trump’s future plan to reach the peace in the region.

1.The Oslo Accord

When
analyzing the Israeli-Palestinian history, a breaking point is the Oslo
Accords.  In 1993,  the US President Bill Clinton was the mediator
between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the PLO Chairman Yasser
Arafat, during the first official negotiation aiming at recognizing the two antagonist
side. These accords initiated in Norway, aimed to set several initiative for
the construction of peaceful climate among the two states. The main principle
was to lead the OLP through an institutional development towards the
construction of an internationally recognized state.[12]

The
Oslo Accords were the results of a change in the international atmosphere: the
disruption of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War; the US coalition
won in the first Gulf War; Yasser Arafat was in crisis even if his popularity
was at its top; and the main shift onto Israeli leadership with the moderate Rabin
in 1992. [13]

In
a letter written by Arafat to Rabin, he said that he was ready to recognize
Israel as a State having the rights to live in peace and in security, to accept
the United Nation Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, renouncing to use violence
and to stop terrorist attacks on Israeli territory.

From
his part, Rabin claimed the recognition of the PLO as the representative
government of the Palestinian people and the will to start a peace process
investing all the Middle East.

He
noted was the first time in the history that these two nations started to talk,
recognizing each other. The core issue during this negotiation process, was the
partition of the land and the fully recognition of the right to live on the
land. [14]

As
shown in the previous paragraph, we can notice that the conflict has a regional
dimension from the begin (1948-49), illustrated by the Jewish State fighting
with its neighborhoods (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) which in turn were driven more
by national interests than the will to defend the Palestinians.

Therefore,
the Oslo Accord, not only tried to regulate and normalize the issue within the
historical Palestinian land, but had a spillover effect granting a kind of
normalization also with other Arab States.[15]
In a certain point of view, the Oslo agreement, that basically was signed by the
PLO and the Israeli government, had a much more important impact on the Israeli
external relations than a radical change in the Palestinian way of life. The
diplomatic ties with other Arab States such as Tunisia and Saudi Arabia started
to become more intense.[16]

Analyzing
the issue from the Palestinian side, this accord was strongly opposed by the Hamas
political party that during the negotiations caused several clashes in Israel.
Rabin decided to deport the authors of the violent actions (almost 400) to Lebanon.
This decision was held in order to have a dialogue only with the moderated
Palestinian leadership, but this caused a shift in popularity in favor of
resistance movements and Hamas at the PLO expenses.[17]

The
informal negotiations done before the official Oslo Accord did not touch the
main important issues of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. The debate avoided the
issue of the right to return for all the Palestinians obliged to leave their
land during the 1948 war; the border of the future Palestinian State; the
management of the Israeli settlements within the West Bank territory; the
status of Jerusalem.[18]

It
seems to be clear that the only way to reach any agreement, is to avoid the
main important issues that are cause of division between the two groups. In
addition, the Israeli Prime Minister was not really favorable for the creation
of Palestinian State, but he appreciated more the idea of an extension of a
Jordan State.[19]

The
Oslo Accords, even if they gained some popularity among Palestinian society,
split the leadership among those who were strongly in their favor and those
against.

Almost
26 years later, there are several factors defining the reality in the territory
supposed to be Palestinian independent state: we assist to an annexation of the
West Bank territory; discrimination regime perpetrated by Israel on the
occupied Palestinian territory; the fragmentation of Palestinian society.[20]

According
to some scholars[21],
there are three key factors because the Accord let the possibility for Israel
to act unilaterally without take into consideration the PLO’s willingness.
First, from a judicial point of view, the Accords gave to Israel the full
control of most of the West Bank territory in a transitional period (until the
peace is fully achieved). Secondly, the Accords are vague about a crucial
point, such as which and where is the amount of territory that the Palestinian
will reach; how many Palestinian prisoners will be released; how to regulate
the jurisdictional case of the settlement inside the West Bank during the
transitional period.[22]

The
Oslo Accords started the way for an Israeli and Palestinian peace talks, the
last one in which both of them were directly involved was the Annapolis
Conference in 2007.

2. Annapolis Conference 2007

In
the Joint Understanding on Negotiation 27 November 2007, the Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert and the Chairman of the PLO Mahmoud Abbas claimed their willingness
to reach an agreement aiming to ensure peace and stability for the two peoples.

These
are the goals in the Joint Understanding:

  • We
    agree to immediately launch good faith bilateral negotiations in order to
    conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core
    issues, without exception, as specified in previous agreements.
  • We
    agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall
    make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008.
  • For
    this purpose, a steering committee, led jointly by the head of the delegation
    of each party, will meet continuously, as agreed.
  • The
    steering committee will develop a joint work plan and establish and oversee the
    work of negotiations teams to address all issues, to be headed by one lead
    representative from each party.
  • The
    first session of the steering committee will be held on 12 December 2007.
  • President
    Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert will continue to meet on a bi-weekly basis to
    follow up the negotiations in order to offer all necessary assistance for their
    advancement
    [23].

At the beginning of this peace process,
there were several elements that let though about positive outcomes for the
regulation of the issue. First, a deep commitment shown by US President George
W. Bush to achieve a peace agreement; the unprecedented engagement of an
Israeli Prime Minister, Olmert; the most collaborative Palestinian negotiators.
[24]

Therefore, this negotiation process, once
again, did not led to a stable and shared plan for the future of these two
nations.

The whole structure of the agreement was
fragile because of the premises they were agreed upon. The hardest point asked
to the Israeli was the stop of all settlement activities beyond the 1967
borders, as well as to stop the attacks against Palestinians and their property,
to respect the Jerusalem institutions and other internal closure.[25]

On the other hand, the Palestinian had
to stop all the violent actions against Israel, within the West Bank, Gaza
Strip and inside the Israeli territory.

In the aftermath of the Annapolis conference,
the outcome started to be sobering because of two main internal factors. First,
the fragmentation of the Palestinian political goals, and second, the
instability of the Olmert government.

The cleavage of the political party
(mainly Hamas and Fatah[26])
in the Palestinian landscape became stronger and focused on the “Yes peace
process” with the Israeli and “No peace process”. Starting with the Oslo
Accord, Fatah leadership (Arafat, Abbas) was favorable of a peace agreement and
the two states solution. Moreover, it seemed that since this moment, Fatah started
to lose his popularity in favor of the Hamas’ increase in consensus.

The breaking point was in 2007, when the
Hamas officially won the general elections in Gaza Strip, defining the
geographical rupture, that was not anymore only political.[27]

A second factor was the instability of
the Olemrt government, that had to enlarge the coalition within Knesset in
order to continue the peace process, that obliged the Prime Minister to have a
weaker position.

The outcomes that emerged comparing
these two peace processes are that in order to have a long-lasting and
sustainable peace talk, there are important internal factors as well as
external mediators to consider:

  1. It needs inside the
    Israeli political leadership, to have actors who believe in the necessity to
    have peaceful ties with the Palestinians (with Rabin in Oslo and Olemrt in
    Annapolis);
  2. On the Palestinian
    side, the most important element is the cohesion between all the different
    forces, otherwise all the requests on the negotiation table with the
    counterpart will lose the efficacy (the divergence between Fatah leaders, Hamas
    and civil society);
  3. It is absolutely
    necessary to have an outsider and “super
    partes
    ” mediator who strongly desires to achieve the peace in the region
    (no matter if it is the way or the objective). In this story, this role has
    been always played by the US.

So,
more interest having influence in the region, higher could be the results of
the negotiations.

“The deal of the century”

The
plan on which Trump and his entourage are working on remains a secret although
there are some rumors that published on the main international newspaper that
can be interpreted.

According
to the Israel Hayom and reported by the Middle East Monitor, the agreement will
be directed to three parties: the Israel government, the PLO and the Hamas. The
main point is the creation of a state, called “New Palestine” which will be set
on actual West Bank and Gaza Strip, exception done by the territory occupied by
the Israeli settlements, which would formally be included onto Israel State.
The Israeli should release the Palestinian prisoners in a period of three years
after the signature of the agreement. The other “red cow”, the Jerusalem issue
will be solved with a general control left in the Israeli hands, but the
Palestinians will be citizens of the “New Palestine”. The possibility to buy
Palestinian houses and lands will be forbidden to the Israelis.[28]

Apparently
other international actors will be involved in this huge peace process: Egypt
will give land close to the Gaza Strip; China will pay for the infrastructures
to connect Gaza and the West Bank, with the economic help of South Korea,
Australia, Canada, US and EU.

The
creation of the “New Palestine” state will be economically supported by the
Gulf states, the US and the EU.

Nevertheless,
the “New Palestine” cannot have an army, and thus the defense policy will be
left in the hands of Israelis.

If
the parties of the agreement, will reject it, they will be punished by a cut in
the economic aids given by the US and other international donors.

In
any case, the deal will be published after the Ramadan celebration and we will
be able to better analyses the elements put on the balance for all the parts
involved.

Considering
the elements at our disposal, we can affirm that comparing with the previous
analyzed peace agreements, there are two elements less: the unity of the
Palestinian front, and a pro-peace Israeli leadership. Moreover it seems that
new elements are on the table: a more international actors involvement, and a
concrete ties between the acceptance of the agreement and the monetary/economic
sphere.

Giulia Marino

L’image contient peut-être : plein air

[1]Les Arabes,
leur destin et le notre, histoire d’une libération, Jean-Pierre Filiu , La Découverte/Poche, 2018

[2]Ibidem

[3]Les Arabes,
leur destin et le notre, histoire d’une libération, Jean-Pierre Filiu , La Découverte/Poche, 2018 (pag.59)

[4]Un accord ingombrante:
Sykes-Picot, by Giulio Ucciero, 24 march 2017: http://university.it/un-accordo-ancora-ingombrante-sykes-picot

[5]Les Arabes,
leur destin et le notre, histoire d’une libération, Jean-Pierre Filiu , La Découverte/Poche, 2018 (pag88)

[6]Arab-Israeli wars,
WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/event/Arab-Israeli-wars

[7] Ibidem

[8]Ibidem

[9] Political
party and militant group emerged after the 1982 Israeli Liban invasion. For

[10]Arab-Israeli wars,
WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/event/Arab-Israeli-wars

[11]Israel and Palestine,
striving for peace in the Holy Land: http://israelandpalestine.org/map-of-israel-and-palestine/

[12]The Oslo Accords Are Dead,
but There Is Still a Path to Peace, on the 25th anniversary of the landmark
Israeli-Palestinian deal, activists and diplomats should focus on recreating
the conditions that made it possible.

BY
DANIEL LEVY | SEPTEMBER 13, 2018, Foreign Policy:  https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/13/the-oslo-accords-are-dead-but-there-is-still-a-path-to-peace-israeli-palestinian-arafat-rabin-clinton/

[13]Ibidem

[14]The Oslo
Accord, by Avi Shlaim, Institute for Palestine Studies: https://www.palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/39986

[15]Ibidem, pag
25

[16]Ibidem, pag,
27

[17]Ibidem, pag
28

[18]Ibidem, pg
34

[19]Ibidem, pag
34

[20]Rethinking
Oslo: How Europe can promote peace in Israel-Palestine, Omar Dajani & Hugh
Loatt 26th  July, 2017: https://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/rethinking_oslo_how_europe_can_promote_peace_in_israel_palestine_7219

[21]Omar Dajani
& Hugh Loatt

[22]Rethinking
Oslo: How Europe can promote peace in Israel-Palestine, Omar Dajani & Hugh
Loatt 26th  July, 2017: https://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/rethinking_oslo_how_europe_can_promote_peace_in_israel_palestine_7219

[23]Annapolis Conference
joint understanding and statements, Joint Understanding on Negotiations

27
November 2007:  https://mfa.gov.il/mfa/aboutisrael/history/pages/the%20annapolis%20conference%2027-nov-2007.aspx

[24]After Annapolis’
failure: The chances of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

23/03/2009
| by Baliani, Diego: https://www.ict.org.il/Article.aspx?ID=1059#gsc.tab=0

[25]Iidem

[26]Led by
Mahmoud Abbas

[27]After Annapolis’
failure: The chances of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

23/03/2009
| by Baliani, Diego: https://www.ict.org.il/Article.aspx?ID=1059#gsc.tab=0

[28]Isreal newspaper
publishes terms of “deal of century”, Middle East Monitor, May 8, 2019: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190508-israeli-newspaper-publishes-terms-of-deal-of-century/

L’article Conflicts, negotiations, agreements, failures: will Trump’s plan overcome this cycle? est apparu en premier sur Le portail de référence pour l'espace de liberté, sécurité et justice.

Author :
Print