Secretary of State John Kerry has been on a seemingly impossible mission to complete what his predecessors have continuously failed to do: secure peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Ideally, they would result in an agreement between both sides on the issues of borders, security, the claiming of Jerusalem and the rising numbers of refugees in the area.
The United States set April 29, 2014 as a deadline to agree on a framework for negotiating. In other words, for almost nine months all sides have been negotiating what they plan to negotiate during the real negotiations this summer. With us so far?
The problem is that the US now says they cannot meet the April deadline, which further delays any real step towards peace in the volatile region. Even the slightest indication progress or lack thereof could almost immediately affect both Israel and Palestine’s fragile economies. If there is progress or any sign of agreement, the international community will respond positively and Palestine will begin to see an increase in financial support. The Palestinian economy will boom as both Palestinian and Israeli workers will be able to move between the two regions freely. Citizens could work wherever they wanted within the region and there would be a decrease in tension on the streets.
If there continues to be no signs of anything productive getting done, the economies and social/security issues in both Israel and Palestine will deteriorate even further. Statisticians predict higher unemployment rates, which will lead to dissatisfaction among citizens and more violence.
One of the terms of agreement, at least according to a leaked document, would be the Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Besides the fact that the Palestinians would never agree to this, it is problematic because it would prevent millions of Palestinians displaced by the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 from returning to their ancestral lands.
The Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would also mean Israel would also have to recognize Palestine as a Palestinian state, which is unlikely to be accepted by the Israeli people living outside of contingent Israel. This brings up the biggest obstacle of all – the numerous political parties and factions demanding a voice in the negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Each recognized party is wary of the next and any consensus will be difficult to achieve, further stalling any agreement.
Hamas, the political party that controls the Gaza Strip, has made it known to both sides that they will reject any framework, agreements, or negotiations presented because they were not included in the talks. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, from the Fatah party of the West Bank, has been meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry on behalf of Palestine. Hamas has also been vocal about their belief that armed resistance, not negotiation, is the only way to secure Palestine.
There is much speculation that the proposals being put on the table are deliberately made to be antagonizing towards one side in order to purposely stall the negotiations. There is no speculation, however, that six decades have gone by and the people of Israel and Palestine are getting restless.