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Whither the MEPP?

In reading the history of the Palestinian-Israel conflict, I found the role of the United States extremely disheartening. Even before the War on Terror, the United States readily accepted the characterization of Palestinian resistance as “terrorism” meanwhile dismissing the IDF’s asymmetrical use of force as legitimate. A more recent history of the conflict more easily portrays the Palestinian side as the larger perpetrator of terrorism, however, before the creation of the Jewish state, both Jews and Arabs committed acts of terrorism against the British whom they viewed a colonial power denying them their right to control to their native lands. After Britain issued the 1939 White Papers reversing the Balfour Declaration, Ben-Gurion, who would later become the first Prime Minister of Israel declared: “We shall fight the war as if there were no White Paper; we shall fight the White Paper as if there were no war!”[1]. When war eventually broke out in 1948, all sides, including the British, used terror as a method during their respective military campaigns.[2] Violence has been used by all sides to try and maintain dominance. Though it is easy to characterize violence as categorically counterproductive, this does not seem historically true. Israel owes part of its existence to the use of terrorism.

Lustick’s argument, that the Israel-Palestinian conflict will endure so long as the United States continue to unilaterally support Israel, is convincing. The inauguration of former president Trump bolstered the Israeli side at the expense of the Palestinians. In line with Trump’s general foreign policy strategy of unilateralism, the last administration ignored international law and only ambiguously announced its support of a two-state solution. Over the last four years, the decision to support settlements in the West Bank, move the United States embassy to Jerusalem and cut off high-level talks with the PLO only further isolated the Palestinians and distanced both sides from the possibility of long-lasting peace.[3]

So long as the status quo is comfortable enough to Israel, peace in the levant will appear a pipe dream. The Camp David Accords were only signed by Begin when Carter threated to cut off all aid to Israel.[4] Though this coercive diplomacy was effective in forcing Begin’s hand, it was ineffective in bringing either side to discuss final status issue such as Jerusalem and the Golan Heights because these issues never even appeared on the table. The Peel Commission was accepted by the Jewish Agency when they felt themselves the underdog. Perhaps when both sides perceive an absolute gain in cooperation and compromise the Palestinian-Israeli conflict may finally be laid to rest.

[1]Bickerton, Ian J., and Carla L. Klausner. A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. (London: Routledge, 2018), 66.

[2] Bickerton, Ian J., and Carla L. Klausner. A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. (London: Routledge, 2018), 121

[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/two-state-solution

[4] Bickerton, Ian J., and Carla L. Klausner. A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. London: Routledge, 2018, (234)

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