Palestinian-Israeli conflict: the price of the "status quo".
Monday, 30 May 2011 10:23
Pamela Urrutia Arestizábal, Investigadora de l'Escola de Cultura de Pau, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Published at Nous Horitzons, edition on "Aires de Canvi a la Mediterrània"
For some time now negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis have generated little expectation. A climate of scepticism has pervaded political, diplomatic and journalistic circles, and became even more patent during 2010, despite the brief renewal of direct talks between the parties, with a meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas in the White House after twenty months without formal dialogue. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, talks floundered weeks later, after the Israeli Government's decision to resume the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, amid protests by Palestinians and the international community. The persistent blockade of dialogue in recent years has cast doubts upon the wouldbe intentions — and the political capacity — of Barack Obama's administration to give the Middle East peace process a definitive push. Nevertheless, from a historical standpoint it is merely the latest stage in an ebb and flow of negotiations which in the last two decades has yielded no results when the conflict’s key topics are addressed: the definition of borders, the future of the settlements, Jerusalem as capital and the return of the Palestinian refugees. In the last decade, the situation has given rise to recurring episodes of violence of varying intensity which, since the outbreak of the second Intifada from 2000 until September 2010, have run up a death toll of almost 7,500 victims, 85% of them Palestinians.1 In parallel, this gave rise to a series of Israeli policies being imposed on the ground. The advance of the settlements, the building of the separation barrier and the growing control of East Jerusalem have gained ground in the framework of an apparent status quo which is not immobile, since in practice, certain policies of accomplished events consolidate Israel's positions as it becomes increasingly more difficult to imagine the feasibility of a future Palestine state. Without needing to witness incidents of direct violence, any interested observer who travels to the zone can grasp the consequences of this scenario in a few snapshots of the occupation. A visit to Hebron, to the barrier or a trip through East Jerusalem give us an idea of the specific realities of this conflict that do not appear in the headlines of high-level international policy...