Is the Status Quo between Israelis and Palestinians Sustainable?

(Foreign Policy) Aaron David Miller - Secretary of State John Kerry has said repeatedly that "the status quo between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not sustainable." Yet Israelis and Palestinians have their own agendas and concerns, and their rationales and fears of dramatically changing the status quo outweigh the risks of managing it. A conflict that is perceived to be existential in nature isn't just a real estate deal. At the Camp David summit in July 2000, I heard Yasser Arafat say several times that he wouldn't give the Americans the chance to walk behind his coffin. Translation: Don't think I'll sign a deal that will get me killed. He knew that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had been at Camp David, too, in 1978 with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and that despite getting 100% of Sinai back, the Egyptian leader had been murdered. Paradoxically, close proximity helps mitigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians have a dependency on Israel for water, electricity, access to the outside world, and a range of goods and services - including employment opportunities. At the same time, the continuation of Palestinian violence, a hostile Hamas government in Gaza, a Middle East in meltdown, an Arab world distracted by Iran and the Islamic State, and Israel's growing closeness with Egypt all create very little chance that there will be an intense focus on negotiations to create a Palestinian state. The writer is vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

2016-05-24 00:00:00

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