US Arab plan for Palestine, Netanyahu's wall

After more than four months of conflict in Gaza, the United States and its Arab partners are stepping up efforts to implement a long-term peace plan in the Middle East. The Washington Post announced this and reported that it was also working on a precise timeline for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The first step would be a six-week ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, during which Washington would announce the plan and formation of a Palestinian transitional government.

An ambitious strategy that, however, risks hitting the wall of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has always been against the two-state solution: “It is not the time for gifts,” was the comment of his spokesman on the American initiative, which sounded like a comment rejection. The peace plan is tied to negotiations for a ceasefire aimed at releasing more hostages, which the Biden administration still believes is “possible,” according to WP.

The aim is to reach an agreement before the start of Ramadan on March 10 to prevent the situation of the population in the Gaza Strip from deteriorating further during the fasting month. At that point it would be time to announce the roadmap: the withdrawal of settler communities (many if not all) from the West Bank, a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, the reconstruction of Gaza, security and governance arrangements for the territories into their newfound Unit.

In return for Israel, concrete security guarantees and a normalization of relations with Riyadh and other Arab states. The United States is working on this plan with representatives of Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Palestine. Among the options being considered by Washington is the early recognition of a Palestinian state. While there is optimism in Arab countries about the possibility of bringing Palestinian groups together to form a government of technocrats rather than politicians, leading to new elections. And there are also debates about whether Hamas' political leadership could play a role in postwar Gaza.

The biggest unknown in this complicated process remains Israel, which the Post described as “the elephant in the room.” Prime Minister Netanyahu considers Hamas's hostage-taking to be inadmissible and, above all, rejects the creation of a Palestinian state. Believing, supported by the far right of his government, that the only guarantee of security was to maintain “control over the entire area west of the Jordan.”

Among other things, the PNA is not considered a serious interlocutor because it “has not yet condemned the massacre of October 7th,” explained the prime minister's spokesman. Referring to the Arab and American plan, Abu Mazen himself said that he expected “actions on the ground and not words” and reiterated that the PNA is ready to assume its responsibilities in Gaza after the end of the conflict. But according to some Western officials and analysts, it is precisely the two leaders who stand in the way of lasting peace. Both Netanyahu and Abu Mazen “are more interested in asserting their positions” than engaging in “any solution that changes the current political framework,” says Aaron David Miller, a former US State Department adviser and coordinator the Arab-Israeli negotiations.

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