A slew of statements coming from Israel show that the Benjamin Netanyahu government is bent on upending the progress made in the current US-brokered peace process. The country’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, said the peace talks are in crisis and she sees difficulty moving ahead. “The past week wasn’t a good week and we will have to fight to see how we can correct and move forward,” she said. But more serious threats came from Netanyahu himself. He threatened Palestinians with unilateral reprisals yesterday if President Mahmoud Abbas went ahead with applications to adhere to 15 international treaties. “These will only make a peace agreement more distant. Any unilateral moves they take will be answered by unilateral moves at our end,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting.
The fact that this serious threat to the peace process comes after US Secretary of State John Kerry has invested lots of his time, energy and goodwill in the process is very disheartening. The current stalemate in talks can easily snowball into a serious crisis, obliterating all the progress made so far, unless serious efforts are made to halt the slide. Washington fully realizes the seriousness of the issue and sent its envoy Martin Indyk to the region. Indyk met Israeli and Palestinian negotiators but there has been no success.
The coming days will be crucial in deciding the fate of the peace talks. Kerry, who has been exuding optimism until now, has suddenly turned pessimistic and warned both sides that here are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward. His statement shows the extent of his exasperation. He must be disappointed that his high-stakes gamble to achieve the dream of generations and bring peace to the Middle East is collapsing as easily as a house of cards.
The failure of the latest peace bid, if it happens, should awaken the world to the intransigence of Israel and its complete lack of interest in peace. The current crisis is a creation of the Netanyahu government. It erupted after Israel last week refused to release the fourth and last batch of Palestinian prisoners in line with an agreement struck with the Palestinians and the US. Angry at the dishonouring of a promise, Mahmoud Abbas signed the applications for more UN recognition.
It’s time for the world to unite against Israel, and make this country, which regularly mocks at international laws, to pay a price for its excesses and atrocities. The international boycott movement against the Jewish state has produced some wonderful results, and it’s time to explore its full potential.