European Council on Foreign Relations

Bringing Europe into the Middle East peace process

During his trip to South Korea at the end of April, American President Barack Obama announced a "pause" in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, nine months into Secretary of State John Kerry's flailing initiative. As the plan's April 29, 2014 deadline approached, progress towards a first framework-agreement remained slow, if not inexistent. Washington hedged its bets on an exchange to prevent the process from complete derailment: the Palestinian Authority's (PA) acceptance to postpone the deadline for talks, in return for a package making such extension acceptable, including most notably a partial settlement freeze in the West Bank and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's follow up on his July 2013 promise to release a number of Palestinian prisoners.

Yet the arrangement turned sour when Netanyahu reneged on his commitment to release the fourth batch of inmates, prompting

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Palestinian reconciliation and negotiations

Even before news of a new reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas broke, US efforts to extend the deadline for bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) looked to be on shaky ground. Few expected a smooth transition; but nor did they expect talks to collapse so quickly, revealing just how little progress was made over the last nine months.

Now that their nine-month deadline has expired, are the negotiations dead? In truth, they were dead before they even started. This is not to say that the US may not succeed in getting both parties back to the negotiating table over the coming weeks. Even if it can revive current negotiations, however, this will not solve the more fundamental problem of their failure to produce a lasting agreement over the last two decades.

Particularly damaging has been the failure of US diplomacy to address

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Three things Europe can do to support the Middle East Peace Process

Palestinian Fatah delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmed celebrates with Hamas prime minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniya in Gaza City on April 23 2014 after West Bank and Gaza Strip leaders agreed to form a unity government. © EPAS European Pressphoto Agency B.V. / Alamy

On 23 April, the two rival Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fatah, signed a reconciliation agreement that surprised many experts and policymakers. Stipulated in the agreement are the creation in five weeks of a technocratic government tasked with organising new parliamentary and presidential elections after six months and a commitment to reform the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to include also Hamas, both listed as terrorist organizations by the United States. The new government would run the Palestinian Authority (PA), which provides public services and is responsible for security in the Gaza Strip and

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Kerry’s Middle-East Peace Push and Bibi’s ‘No-State’ Solution

If recent press reports are to be believed, the United States will soon present Israeli and Palestinian negotiators with a framework agreement – a non-binding proposal that would begin to sketch out an elusive middle ground between both sides. Yet, some six months into a nine month window dedicated to achieving a lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this only serves to highlight the lack of progress achieved so far.

Despite widespread warnings that time is running out for a two-state solution, even President Obama remains sceptical that a final status agreement will be reached in the foreseeable future. In the absence of any tangible prospects for advancing discussions on final status issues, the US President has lowered expectations, describing current US efforts as merely intending to “push the boulder partway up the hill and maybe stabilize it so it doesn’t roll

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Peter Hain: “Can a common state solution end the Palestine-Israel Impasse?”

© Jeff Morgan 14 / Alamy

In a recent public lecture at the University of Swansea Peter Hain delved into the Israeli/Palestinian issue, warning of the dangers of a slipping two-state solution and what this could mean for ending the long running conflict. The Labour MP is far from naïve though about the complexities of elaborating alternatives to a two-state solution, but having been a longstanding supporter of the Palestinian cause and a friend of Israel he now finds himself forced to ask whether a “common state solution” might more easily resolve the deadlock than the two-state solution long-favoured by many.

Having worked closely with Israeli and Palestinian leaders while serving as British Middle East and Cabinet Minister and with a strong record of fighting apartheid, racism and anti-Semitism, his words are worth heading.

“For close to seventy years the cycle of violence

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