Opinion: US policy on Palestine conflict has changed over time

Written By: Umer Beigh
Delhi, India Published: Aug 14, 2018, 02.16 PM(IST)

File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The decision to move US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem did limit the chance of two- state solution. For Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Palestine Authority, “slap of the century.”

Ever since Donald Trump became President of the United States, the resolution of Palestine conflict has furthered away, the manifestation of which was visibly palpable in December 2017 when Washington officially declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Six months later in June, the White House announced to freeze $200million aid to Palestinian Authority.

Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict has been an amalgam of three main variables - the geopolitical, the domestic and the regional issue for the US government. All of these variables have gone consistently awry since 1948 following the US-policy on Palestine-Israel dispute has historically proven to be inconsistent.
Meanwhile, US support to Israel is conditional. In 1956, when Israel invaded one of the Washington's strategically placed region in Middle East (Egypt) with the support of France and Britain, US posed an opposition to Israel. For many years, the US was reluctant to back Israel’s nuclear programme, however, now they are supporting it.  There was one stage in US when the public discussion on the Palestinian Nakba or the United Nations-mandated “right to return” of Palestinians refugees was not deemed to be a problematic issue in Washington. Now, even the two-state option is considered controversial.
President Trump-led government, by favouring Israel, will limit the possibility of conflict resolution.

The decision to move US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem did limit the chance of two- state solution. For Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Palestine Authority, it was “slap of the century.”

The role played by the US soon after 1973 Arab-Israeli war was considered pivotal. George Shultz, the Secretary of State, did succeed in resuming the negotiations between the Palestine leadership and Israel after 13 years of talks stalemate, which eventually led to the “land-for-peace” deals.

Following the Persian war and fall of Berlin Wall, the US president George HW Bush sponsored a peace meeting in Spain’s Madrid in 1991 that culminated shortly into signing of infamous Oslo Accord in September 1993. However, this Accord infuriated many Zionists generating serious opposition in Israel which led to the assassination of Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.      

The major failures of the Oslo-diplomacy were - it waned away emphasis of refugees’ right to return, ignored the status of Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land, created provisional government and gave more importance to decolonisation. The division of West Bank into Area A (where Palestine was supposed to have full control), Area B (where Palestine would control civilian matters and Israel the security) and Area C (where Israel was described will entirely control), continues even today.

Many successive US administrations thoroughly considered the resolution of the refugee settlement “as the key element to an Arab-Israeli peace settlement”. The US initially tried staying neutral on conflict to play a critical role as peacemaker. However, Washington and Israel sharing common interest in the Middle East proved counterproductive, and hence hampered the conflict resolution process.     

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

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