Saturday, January 21, 2017
NEW DELHI: On January 15, at least 70 countries will meet in Paris, attempting to salvage a two-state solution that many feel is now beyond saving. Neither Israel nor Palestine will attend, but reports suggest that the Palestinians will present a new peace plan on the sidelines.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu fears that the upcoming Middle East peace conference in Paris may lead to fresh anti-Israel UN resolutions. "There are signs that they will try to turn decisions made there into another decision in the Security Council Therefore our primary effort for now is to prevent another UN decision,” adding that “we are investing a great diplomatic effort in this” said Netanyahu during a meeting with Israeli ambassadors in East Jerusalem al-Quds on Tuesday.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also criticised the initiative in December saying that it would be like the anti-Semitic show trial of French Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus in 1894.
"It is not a peace conference but a tribunal against Israel that is intended to harm Israel and its good name," Liberman said at a gathering of his Yisrael Beytenu (Our Home) part.
However, Advisor to the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said to Jerusalem post that “the Paris conference could be the last opportunity to save the two-state solution but if the current Israeli government refuses to work with the results of the conference, it may bear responsibility for the end of the two-state solution.”
Foreign ministers and officials from almost 77 countries and representatives of multiple international organizations are expected to attend the conference on January 15 to attempt to strengthen the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Last year in December UN Security Council passed the resolution 2334 which states that settlements “has no legal validity,” condemns terrorism and incitement, and calls for the establishment of two independent states.
While the Palestinian leadership has hailed the resolution as “historic,” Israeli officials have referred to it as “shameful.”
The resolution was adopted after the administration of US President Barack Obama refused to veto it, reversing Washington's longstanding policy of shielding Israel from condemnatory measures at the world body. The United States has vetoed dozens of similar resolutions in the past, but this time abstained from voting, allowing the resolution to pass.
US Secretary of State John Kerry in speech following the resolution’s passing said that “we cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.”
The resolution is worded such that it calls for states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” Israel seems concerned that this could lead to a full scale investigation into the issue of settlements by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
US President-elect Donald Trump has indicated his opposition to President Barack Obama’s Israel policy, tweeting -- shortly after the resolution passed -- the following: “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.” Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel is David Friedman who openly supports Israeli settlements and opposes the two-nation solution. Last week, the House of Representatives voted to condemn Resolution 2334.
However, Netanyahu and his supporters in Washington worry that Obama may move toward a two-nation solution during his last days in office. He could do this by formally declaring a Palestinian state or lending support to a French resolution in the Security Council declaring two states and redefining borders.
Although such a move seems highly unlikely, the Paris meeting acquires new significance in light of the politics at play.