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Tuesday Sept. 7, 2010 1:25 PM (EST+7)
This time in Washington, honest brokerage is not going to be enough

Read more: negotiations, peace process, the United States, honest broker, imposed peace, third party, mediator,

RAMALLAH, Sept. 7 (JMCC) - Given the gross asymmetry between Israelis and Palestinians at the negotiating table, the United States will have to do much more than broker peace from the sidelines, it will have to force it on the parties. This is the argument of Avi Shlaim in his latest piece in the Guardian.

...The prospects for reaching a permanent status agreement are poor because the Israelis are too strong, the Palestinians are too weak, and the Americans mediators are utterly ineffectual. The sheer asymmetry of power between the two parties militates against a voluntary agreement. To get Israelis and Palestinians round a conference table and to tell them to hammer out an agreement is like putting a lion and a lamb in a cage and asking them to sort out their own differences.

Third party intervention is clearly indispensable. To put it more simply, there can be no settlement unless America pushes Israel into a settlement. Playing the honest broker will not do the trick. In the first place, most Arabs regard the United States as a dishonest broker on account of its palpable partisanship on behalf of Israel. Moreover, honest brokerage is not enough. In order to bridge the huge gap separating the two sides, America must first redress the balance of power by putting most of its weight on the side of the weaker party.

The negotiations in Washington will be face to face but they will also be back to back, with each leader constantly watching his domestic constituency. President Mahmoud Abbas, popularly known as Abu Mazen, is the most moderate partner for peace Israel could hope for. But his domestic position is rather precarious. He is the leader of the mainstream party Fatah, a democratically elected president, and the head of the Palestinian Authority. But he faces a formidable rival in Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, and other splinter groups like Islamic Jihad...

Read the full article at the Guardian...







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