New US peace initiative for Israel and the Palestinian Territories unlikely to yield quick gains, if any

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

A new Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative promoted by Secretary of State John Kerry today in Israel is unlikely to bear fruit, especially in the short-term. Secretary Kerry unveiled the plan, which is purposefully non-specific. It includes meager US-funded economic incentives, and a call for supporting the Arab League’s 2002 proposal for Israel to accept the pre-1967 border in exchange for recognition (WSJ).

Israel will not accept the 1967 borders, and any proposal for the same is an attempt to solicit Arab nations on other issues. Likewise, Palestinians will not be influenced by scarce development funding available from the Department of State. Such development funding is the price of admission for a new peace initiative, another in a string of de rigueur Israeli-Palestinian peace processes led by successive US Secretaries of State.

The greatest hope for peace in Israel and the Palestinian territories is stable status quo behavior by both sides in the conflict, which over time may lead to grudging acceptance on the part of Arabs, a security agreement, and recognition of Israel. The Israeli military returns errant Palestinians to the status quo by responding militarily to rocket fire from Gaza. However, the United States is doing a poor job of keeping Israel to the status quo path. Israel continually allows the building of new settlements, or improvement of old settlements, that inflame Arab public opinion against not only Israel but the United States. Such settlements may gain Israel additional territory in any final peace deal. However, they cost the United States scarce political capital in dealings with Arab nations on a long list of other far more costly and risk-laden issues, such as energy supply, terrorism, the Arab Spring instability, insurgencies against which the US has staked its reputation, and nuclear proliferation.

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