Israel peace talks are still at a stalemate after four days of meetings in Washington D.C., involving the Trump administration speaking with senior Israeli officials. In a joint statement, by the U.S. and Israel, made on Thursday night, March 23, 2017, it seems to be status quo, with negotiators from the Middle East country stating that they will take into consideration concerns by the Trump administration, about settlement building.
The latest round of talks began with Jason Greenblatt, Donald Trump’s appointed special representative for the process of negotiating peace amongst the Israelis and Palestinians, having the daunting task of meeting with leaders in the Middle East region a week ago. Greenblatt met with Benjamin Netanyahu for five hours in Jerusalem al-Quds. The two men agreed to commit to the peace process, as reported in a statement made by Netanyahu’s office. Trump’s appointee then met with Palestinian leaders.
Israel Peace Talks Once Again Stalled
The talks involved the U.S. continuing in its ongoing capacity of attempting mediation between Israel and the Palestinians, regarding settlement activity. Greenblatt led the discussions involving Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., and Yoav Horowitz, chief of staff to Netanyahu.
At the conclusion of the recent talks, a joint statement was released. The account details concern that Trump has regarding the settlement activity by Israel, along with an agreement by the Jewish nation’s representatives to take into consideration the president’s concerns.
Although Israel was hoping for a stronger supporter in Trump, than they received with former President Barack Obama, they are now viewing Trump’s positions as vague. Before taking the oath as president, Trump condemned Obama for not standing up to the United Nations Security Council to veto their resolution condemning the settlements being built by the Jewish nation. On the other hand, Trump has also stated, that he is “not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”
A huge component causing the peace talks to remain stalled in a stalemate is Israel refusing to stop the expansion onto Palestinian territories, regarding building settlements. International law, with regards to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, dictates that it is illegal for a country to populate any territory that it has received through war. Israel took occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds Palestinian territories in 1967, during the Six-Day War.
The Ongoing Battle Between Israel and the Palestinians
Palestinians are looking to build their own state situated in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They also want the Gaza Strip. Accordingly, with the land acquired during the war, most countries agree that the Jewish settlements are illegal. Israel argues that, although the area was obtained through war, historical facts indicate it was theirs already.
Israel also cites that they need the land for interests of security. Most American lawmakers agree that, whatever results from the peace talks, the Jewish settled districts in Jerusalem al-Quds should stay under the control of Israel. Moreover, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, home to Judaism’s most religious place of importance, the Western Wall, should certainly remain under the control of Israel.
In 2014 talks of peace were stalled when, then Secretary of State John Kerry, failed to arrange an agreement between the two sides. At the time discussions came to a standstill, they could not even extend a talk deadline to create an agenda for final negotiations for peace.
Nothing has been released specifying exactly what Trump is seeking as a result of an Israel peace agreement. It appears that those in support of two separate states, sees the Jewish nation retaining the large settlement blocs. Supporters agree that restrictions must be included in any agreement that will limit large settlement blocs construction.
As the Israel peace talks are stalled for the moment, officials did reveal some measures discussed in gaining peace. Everyone involved in the talks agreed that measures need to be taken to “have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza.” Specifically noted are the discussions regarding allowing for electricity and water “self-sustainability” endeavors.
By Carol Ruth Weber
Edited by Cathy Milne
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