THE LAST DAYS OF US President Obama’s term of office have seen a sudden push to get peace talks re-started between the state of Israel and displaced Palestinians. Don’t hold your breath.
Just before Christmas, the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution denouncing Israel for building settlements on land which it has occupied on a basis widely regarded as illegal under international law. To some surprise, the US did not veto the resolution.
Now a conference is taking place in Paris, with representatives of over 70 nations due to attend. It is trying to find a way of restarting peace talks which collapsed nearly three years ago and it is thought likely that delegates will confirm they are seeking to end conflict by favouring the “two states” solution, in which Israel is recognised by Arab states and the Palestinians are allowed to govern the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel and the Palestinians have been invited to observe the Conference. Israel has refused to do so, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described it as a “futile” event.
If Israel’s lack of interest is one reason why the conference is unlikely to kick start any meaningful action, the arrival of Donald Trump in the US White House is another. Trump has already alienated the Palestinians and other Arab states in the Middle East by making his hostility to Muslims quite clear – suggesting that all people of Muslim faith be barred from the USA, for starters. He has also indicated that he will insensitively ratchet up hostilities by moving the US embassy in the Israeli state from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – the city which has been such a sticking point in previous attempts to secure peace by re-dividing the area of Palestine.
There is no immediate end to the conflict in sight – just more misery for the troubled citizens of Gaza and the West Bank.