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Al Makahleh: The EU-US peace initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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Dr. Shehab Al Makahleh

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long been a source of instability and suffering in the Middle East. Recent hostilities in Gaza have highlighted the urgency of finding a sustainable solution that brings lasting peace to the region. In this context, the new EU-US peace initiative, drawing on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and new proposals, presents a promising framework for resolving the conflict. By comparing the roadmap for peace outlined in the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, we can discern key elements necessary for a successful peace process.

Both the 2024 Roadmap for Peace and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative share the vision of establishing an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. Moreover, the full normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world is a common objective. This recognition of the need for mutual coexistence sets the stage for meaningful negotiations.

The 2024 Roadmap for Peace emphasizes the role of international actors in preparing the groundwork for peace and building a revitalized political alternative to Hamas. The Arab Peace Initiative, on the other hand, does not explicitly mention international assistance but calls for a preparatory peace conference to settle the ongoing war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Combining these elements could create a more comprehensive approach that blends international support with diplomatic engagement.

The 2024 Roadmap for Peace suggests a conference structure involving foreign ministers, directors of international organizations, and separate meetings with conflict parties. This facilitates dialogue and allows for the formation of working groups to address specific issues. The Arab Peace Initiative does not explicitly mention a conference structure but emphasizes the need for a comprehensive peace plan based on UN resolutions and mediation efforts. A combination of these approaches would provide a robust framework for negotiations.

The 2024 Roadmap for Peace recognizes the importance of providing robust security assurances for both Israel and the future Palestinian state. However, it does not explicitly address security concerns in the provided text. The Arab Peace Initiative does not mention security assurances but emphasizes continuous consultation throughout the crafting of the peace plan. Integrating both elements would ensure that security concerns are adequately addressed while maintaining open lines of communication.

While the roadmap for peace acknowledges the need to mitigate the ongoing humanitarian crisis, secure the release of Israeli hostages, prevent regional escalation, strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s democratic legitimacy, and support Gaza’s reconstruction, the Arab Peace Initiative does not explicitly mention parallel humanitarian goals. Incorporating these objectives from the roadmap for peace into the broader peace initiative would address urgent humanitarian needs and create a conducive environment for lasting peace.

For the proposed roadmap to be successful, the EU-US peace initiative builds on international support and multilateral engagement in the peace process. By involving international actors, such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, the initiative ensures a broader scope of perspectives, expertise, and resources to facilitate a comprehensive and sustainable resolution.

The EU-US peace initiative should recognize the significance of regional cooperation in achieving lasting peace, by building on the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which offers a collective Arab consensus on peace with Israel. By leveraging regional support and engagement, the initiative should create a more inclusive and comprehensive peace process. The EU-US peace initiative should acknowledge the need to address the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including borders, settlements, Jerusalem, security, refugees, and water resources by emphasizing the importance of negotiating a fair and equitable solution to these issues, considering the aspirations and concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Building trust and confidence between the parties involved is crucial for the success of any peace initiative. The EU-US peace initiative can incorporate confidence-building measures, such as the easing of restrictions on movement and access, prisoner exchanges, economic cooperation, and joint projects that benefit both Israelis and Palestinians. These measures can help foster an environment conducive to peaceful coexistence. Furthermore, the EU-US peace initiative can leverage public diplomacy efforts to engage the broader societies of Israel and Palestine. By promoting dialogue, cultural exchanges, and grassroots initiatives, the initiative can encourage understanding, empathy, and support for peaceful coexistence among the people. People-to-people engagement can help bridge divides, challenge stereotypes, and build long-term relationships based on mutual respect and cooperation.

To ensure the implementation and sustainability of any peace agreement, the EU-US peace initiative can include international guarantees and monitoring mechanisms. These mechanisms can help verify compliance, prevent violations, and hold the parties accountable for their commitments. International support and oversight can provide reassurance and stability, particularly during the initial phases of the peace process.

The EU-US peace initiative can emphasize economic development and regional integration as key components of a comprehensive peace plan. By promoting economic cooperation, trade, and investment between Israel, Palestine, and neighbouring countries, the initiative can foster mutual interdependence and create incentives for lasting peace. Economic development and regional integration can also contribute to job creation, poverty reduction, and improved living standards for all parties involved.

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and achieving lasting peace requires a long-term commitment from all stakeholders. The EU-US peace initiative can outline a roadmap with clear milestones, timelines, and benchmarks to guide the peace process. It should also emphasize the importance of continued engagement and support beyond the initial agreement to ensure the sustainability of peace and address any emerging challenges. The EU-US peace initiative, drawing on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and other new proposals, presents a comprehensive framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ending the war in Gaza. By combining the elements of both the roadmap for peace and the Arab Peace Initiative, a robust peace process that addresses security concerns, fosters diplomatic engagement, and supports the Palestinian people, can be created.

It is imperative for international actors, led by the EU and the US, to work in collaboration with regional stakeholders to advance this initiative. With political will, sustained engagement, and a commitment to a just and lasting peace, the EU-US peace initiative holds the potential to bring about the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pave the way for a better future for all parties involved. Ensuring the participation of all relevant stakeholders is crucial for the success and legitimacy of the EU-US peace initiative. In addition to official negotiations, the EU-US peace initiative can support and encourage Track II diplomacy. This involves facilitating dialogues and peacebuilding initiatives among non-governmental actors, such as academics, activists, religious leaders, and community representatives. Track II diplomacy can contribute to building trust, fostering understanding, and generating innovative ideas that can complement formal negotiations.