JERUSALEM – As US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrives in Jordan for his sixth trip to the region this year, Israelis are questioning whether peace between Israel and Palestine can ever be achieved.
“Kerry didn’t do much of anything,” said David Boneh about Kerry’s most recent trip to Israel in late June. “There is no peaceful solution,” said the Israeli business owner and vendor in Jerusalem’s busiest market.
The eight generation Israeli believes peace between the border states is impossible. Although he wants to believe people will be able to live in harmony, Boneh thinks the on-going conflict will look “no different” in ten, twenty or thirty years.
Several rounds of unsuccessful peace talks and meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, brokered by United States officials, are making some Israelis reconsider the possibility of peace between the two areas.
According to a recent poll conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research 68 per cent of Israelis and 69 per cent of Palestinians believe the likelihood an independent Palestinian State will be created in the next five years is “low or non-existent.”
Military intervention, said 77 year-old David Cohen a merchant from Jerusalem, is the only way to reach an agreement. The history of Israel, said the three-time war veteran for the Israel Defense Soldier, is to fight.
“War may be tomorrow or in five years, we don’t know.”
Growing unrest in Syria and Egypt, however, is threatening to put Kerry’s Israel-Palestine peace talks agenda on the back burner. Kerry is not schedule to stop in Israel or the Palestinian territories, and will instead be meeting with Arab League officials to discuss the crisis in Israel’s most volatile neighbors, Egypt and Syria.
US Secretary of State John Kerry returns to region this week after what he described as a successful round of peace negotiations last month. Although Palestinian leader Mohammed Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not meet, Kerry said the trip made significant headway.
Part of Kerry’s proposed peace plan includes a freeze on building new Israeli settlements in the West Bank – an issue that brought negotiations to a halt in 2010 – and the release of prisoners detained before the 1993 Oslo agreement. According to the same poll, a majority of Israelis believe a two-state solution is “bound to fail because of settlements.”
Kerry’s plan has been criticized by Palestinians who say it is too pro-Israel, and should offer more help to citizens of the Occupied Territories. The adoption of a two-state solution, one that is supported by many in the international community, benefits Israelis over Arabs, said Omar, a Palestinian born in Israel.
“Within the next, five to seven years at the most, you will have some sort of two-state system, whether it is good or not is a different story,” he said. “This needs to change.”
A two-state solution, backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would mean severing all times between Israel and the West Bank. Under the 1993 Oslo agreement, the West Bank was divided into three areas of varying degree of Israeli and Palestinian control.
Several outspoken Knesset members have voiced their disapproval for an independent Palestinian state. One-third of the Knesset, 42 of 120 members, are in favor of occupation and building Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
At a conference last month in Jerusalem, Israel’s economics and trade minister Naftali Bennett told attendees Israel should annex large portions of the West Bank. Right now, Israel controls more than 60 per cent of the West Bank, with a strong military presence in a majority of that land. The idea of creating a Palestinian State, he said, is “over”.
David Wilder, the spokesman for The Committee of The Jewish Community of Hebron, is also adamant a two-state solution will not lead to peace.
“The only way to alleviate the situation we have now is to have a one state and basically make everyone citizens,” said David Wilder.
Regardless of whether a two-state or one-state solution is adopted, some Israeli residents are
optimistic about the future.
“We believe that very soon that will happen and together with the jews and the palestinians, we are going to be able to have peace as well,” said Donny Isenstack, a rabbi in Israel.
A face-to-face meeting between Israeli and Palestinians leaders last occurred in 2010. Both Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have publicly stated their interested in a sit-down meeting.