Change Will Come at the U.N., Not in Washington of Tel Aviv – Zaha Hassan/NYTimes.com
Though the new ultranationalist Israeli coalition government is causing consternation among those who were still hoping for a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict, little is likely to change with respect to U.S. foreign policy in the region.
Palestinians will be turning away from mediated peace efforts and looking more toward intervention at international agencies.
After all, the United States was able to continue its engagement in peace efforts under Secretary John Kerry even while Israel’s foreign minister commuted every day to his home in a settlement located in the occupied West Bank, and with new settlements announced almost every time a U.S. official landed in Tel Aviv or Ramallah for talks.
Without a doubt, it will be much more challenging for the United States to encourage Palestinians that Israel means to negotiate in good faith when Israel’s government includes a party that openly calls for annexation of parts of the West Bank and with a new Israeli minister of justice who seemed to advocate in favor of genocide against the Palestinian people during Israel’s summer bombardment of Gaza.
With the United States preoccupied with its own upcoming elections, and with Democratic and Republican candidates jousting to prove their bona fides with respect to their commitment to the U.S. special relationship with Israel, the situation in Palestine-Israel will likely get worse before it gets better.
Already in the House and the Senate sit trade bills with carefully crafted amendments tacked on that would blur the lines between what is Israel and what is the occupied Palestinian territories. If Israeli policy has changed with the new coalition government, then Congress seems poised to change U.S. policy along with it.
For their part, the Palestinians are not wringing their hands over the situation. Seeing the writing on the Separation Wall, they are turning away from a mediated peace by Washington and looking more serious than ever at possible avenues of intervention at The Hague and the United Nations. Their efforts will be buoyed by civil society — Jews and Palestinians, and those in solidarity with them who have been advocating for equality and justice for all in that sliver of land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. This is where U.S. foreign policy stands to be truly affected.
Zaha Hassan is a former Palestinian negotiator