Western diplomats say they have identified yet another of those apparently-not-so-uncommon “windows of opportunity” for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and US Secretary of State John Kerry has summoned everyone to Rome to talk about it.
“If there is a window of opportunity for a consensus resolution it might be this month,” an unnamed Western diplomat told Reuters last week, referring to frantic efforts to cobble together a UN resolution aimed at jump-starting the peace process before the Palestinians put forward their own, more hard-line motion.
Every year or so, American, European and “moderate” Arab leaders engaged in the peace process make similar announcements, usually at times when Israel and the Palestinian leadership are most unlikely to be able to agree on anything.
Even so, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departed for the Italian capital on Monday, primarily to make sure the Obama Administration sticks to its policy of vetoing any unilateral Palestinians moves at the UN Security Council.
“In a reality in which Islamic terror is spreading its branches to every corner of the globe, we will rebuff every effort that will bring this terror into our own home, into the State of Israel, and these things I say in the clearest possible way,” Netanyahu said before departing. “Even if they are dictated we will stand firm against them.”
The Palestinian resolution, which has been backed at the UN by Jordan, demands a full Israeli surrender of Judea and Samaria (the so-called “West Bank”) by November 2016 at the latest, and regardless of whether or not a bi-lateral peace agreement has by then been signed.
Those reading between the lines will notice that November 2016 coincides with the next presidential election in the US, meaning Barack Obama will by that time be a “lame duck” president and, therefore, far less likely to interfere in any subsequent moves should Israel fail to meet the resolution’s demands.
It is not certain the Palestinian resolution will pass in the Security Council when it is presented later this month, even in the absence of an American veto. Nevertheless, European leaders have taken advantage of the situation to hurriedly put forward a new framework for peace negotiations, though there remains some debate over whether or not it, like the Palestinian resolution, should have a two-year deadline.
Meanwhile in Israel, very few are focusing on the stagnant peace process as the Jewish state gears up for yet another national election. That also means that no leader, including Netanyahu, is going to make any far-reaching moves regarding the peace process until at least a month after the March 17 vote.