For too long the violent conflict between Israel and Palestine has shaped affairs in the Middle East, so it is welcoming news to hear that the US is currently playing host to negotiators from both countries in the hope of securing peace throughout the region.
After a three-year break in direct peace talks, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, aims to reach an agreement between Israel and Palestine that will see an end to the chaos and bloodshed that has become a permanent feature of their diplomatic relations.
The ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians is deeply rooted in disputes over many issues, most markedly mutual recognition of statehood, borders and control over Jerusalem. The area around the West Bank and Gaza Strip remains a key source of violent conflict between the two, being viewed by many as a prime location for a Palestinian state. However, it is this demand for the Palestinian nation to become self-governing that is the main source of the historic conflict between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
The violent nature of the struggle is a concern to the International community, and it is on this basis that Washington has engineered a series of peace talks between Israel and Palestine in the coming few days. Peace talks have always seemingly been fruitless and direct contact between peace negotiators from either side has not occurred for three years. However, under an American initiative, it is hopeful that a resolution can be reached that brings an end to – or at least creates a pathway to – a peaceful future.
Under the watchful eye of Kerry, a dinner was held on the 29th July marking the end of Ramadan, which was attended by representatives of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the past five months, Kerry has made six official visits to the Middle East with the intention of restarting peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The talks, however, are expected to continue for the next nine months, with another meeting being held in either Israel or the Palestinian territories within the coming two weeks. “Our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months,” stated Kerry, with his goal being “a view to ending the conflict, ending the claims.”
These talks hold exceptional importance for the two countries themselves, the Middle East region and the world as a whole. They offer a solution to years of bloodshed and fighting that dominate the area, and a chance of a return to normal life for the citizens who are currently encompassed by the continual struggle. Israeli Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, said that “I believe history is made by people other than cynics. It is made by realists who are not afraid to dream. And let us be those people.”
The Israeli and Palestinian public both say that they support peace, so it is conceivable to believe that a solution can be reached. However, as Livni so rightly stated, the world must have realistic expectations and should expect the deep-rooted conflict to take some time to be resolved, although the talks do show promise of movement in the right direction.