Representatives of 72 countries (but not of Israel or Palestine) will meet at the French-hosted “peace” conference starting in Paris today. Even John Kerry will attend. But the two-state solution they seek can never work. It is essentially an anti-Israel (even if not all participants are anti-Semitic) conference which will seek to “impose” a stop to settlements and promote a two-state solution. It may even be followed up with some new resolution against Israel next week before the Obama administration exits the stage. In fact some think that the peace conference itself may produce a document which Kerry signs, and which contains text that tries to preempt any future US actions supporting Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have been invited to come to France after the conference to learn of its conclusions, the French news agency AFP reported. Netanyahu, who has criticized the process, saying only direct negotiations between the two parties will be effective, has said he will not travel to Paris.
The Obama/Clinton, Obama/Kerry catastrophes in the Middle East have been particularly spectacular. (As of writing the Syrian cease fire is still holding and that is thanks to first, the absence of US involvement and second, the cooperation between Turkey, Russia and Iran). The Paris meeting may be the culmination of 8 years of failed US Middle East policy.
The Obama administration’s eight years of unsuccessful Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy will come to a crashing end this weekend, with chances for a Mideast peace deal at perhaps their lowest ebb in a generation. A Paris peace conference attended by Secretary of State John Kerry isn’t expected to produce any tangible progress.
At a time when President-elect Donald Trump’s administration is promising a fundamental shift toward Israel, the State Department said Kerry was only participating in the French-hosted event to ensure America’s interest in a two-state solution to the conflict is preserved. The blunt statement reinforced the dwindling hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough.
Kerry “feels obliged to be there because we have an interest in advancing a two-state solution, and we also have an interest in ensuring that whatever happens in this conference is constructive and balanced,” department spokesman Mark Toner said. …….
Kerry’s biggest decision in Paris may be a political one: Whether to sign the concluding document if it includes a specific warning to Trump against moving the embassy. The Palestinians, Arab nations and others are pushing the issue, fearing the U.S. move could spark a new conflagration in an already inflamed region. French officials say the warning could be in the document.
Kerry’s signature would be a shot across the bow of Trump’s foreign policy and further undercut President Barack Obama’s promises for a smooth transition of power. Republicans and even many Democratic lawmakers reacted angrily to the administration’s U.N. vote in December and a subsequent speech by Kerry on the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. The House of Representatives even condemned the Security Council resolution.
Israel is bracing for a new U.S. policy. On Friday, the West Bank settlers’ council said it will send a delegation to Trump’s presidential inauguration next week after receiving an invitation.
To find a solution requires the game to be changed.
I think it is time to abandon the two-state solution. A one state solution (which would have an inbuilt Palestinian majority) is also a non starter. But a single Federalist state containing a number of semi-autonomous states, and where the Jewish majority states structurally would outnumber the Muslim majority states could be a way out. For example 2 West Bank states with Muslim majorities, Gaza with a Muslim majority and 5 Jewish majority states could then give 8 states in a Federal configuration. The autonomy of the individual states could be similar to that of the US states.