In late May, France intends to host a conference to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—but Israeli and Palestinian representatives are not invited to attend. The French initiative comes on the heels of an unsuccessful Palestinian effort to present a one-sided anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). These steps are harmful distractions that undermine efforts to resume serious Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.
The French-proposed conference may undermine prospects for peace.
France has invited dozens of foreign ministers to its conference, but chose to exclude the two most important parties to the conflict—the Israelis and the Palestinians. Reportedly, the French idea is to reach at this conference an international consensus on a set of parameters for a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would then be presented to the parties in a second international conference to which they will be invited. The Palestinians readily accepted the French proposal because they hope it will lead the international community to impose Palestinian terms on Israel. But any conference preparing parameters for resolving differences between Israelis and Palestinians without their participation will lack the legitimacy to facilitate a meaningful solution.
Any effort to impose solutions emerging from the conference would also violate the fundamental principle of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, in which both sides agreed to resolve all final-status issues through direct negotiations.
Efforts to impose solutions at the U.N. are counterproductive.
Efforts at the UNSC and other international bodies to impose a solution only further divide the parties and exacerbate distrust. And, given its deep, institutional anti-Israel bias, the U.N. is not the proper forum for addressing the conflict.
Just in the past year alone: the U.N. General Assembly passed 20 resolutions singling out and criticizing Israel—more than the total number of resolutions naming any other country in the world combined; the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for a blacklist of companies operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization passed resolutions that ignored the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and accused Israel of “planting Jewish fake graves” in Muslim cemeteries in order to wrest control of land from Muslims; and the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women approved resolutions singling out Israel for condemnation.
Direct, bilateral talks are the only viable path to achieving an enduring solution.
The Palestinians know full well that no peace agreement can be realized without Israel’s support, and that external efforts allow them to avoid the difficult decisions necessary to achieve peace. A deal can only work if both parties enter negotiations willingly, feel vested in the talks, and intend to implement the outcome. Outside of a directly negotiated settlement, international acceptance of Palestinian demands at Israel’s expense only encourages Palestinian refusal to return to the negotiating table.
As President Barack Obama said during his March 2013 trip to Israel, “There is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiations—which is why…the United States will opposed unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations…It has to be done by the parties.” On Dec. 30, 2014, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power reiterated this message saying that “Peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must be made at the negotiating table.”
The United States must also press the Palestinians to accept Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer to return to negotiations with Israel without preconditions. It should reinforce its long-standing policy of opposing imposed solutions on Israel and to veto any one-sided U.N. Security Council resolution that seeks to bypass direct negotiations.
AIPAC has continuously supported specific guidelines to achieve peace.
Talks must be direct and bilateral.
A solution cannot be imposed on the parties.
Both sides must be willing to make key compromises.
Disagreements should be resolved privately.
The United States must support and work closely with Israel.
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