Could Attempts to Revive Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process Lead to a Deal?

© REUTERS / NIR ELIASYouths wave Israeli flags during a parade marking Jerusalem Day amid Israeli-Palestinian tension as they march along the walls surrounding Jerusalem's Old City, May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo
Youths wave Israeli flags during a parade marking Jerusalem Day amid Israeli-Palestinian tension as they march along the walls surrounding Jerusalem's Old City, May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.08.2021
An Israeli expert believes that for direct talks to finally take place the Palestinians will need to overcome internal divisions. Israel, which is also divided along political fault lines, will need to find a middle ground between its conservative and liberal circles.
Recent weeks have seen a number of attempts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, stalled since 2014, when direct talks between the sides failed.
At the beginning of July, Jordan’s King Abdullah II met Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett under conditions of strict secrecy. Later that month, he spoke to the country's President Isaac Herzog and held separate meetings with US President Joe Biden and the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Internal Divisions Split Palestinians

Pinas Inbari, a senior Middle East analyst, specialising in Jordanian and Palestinian matters at the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, says Amman’s behaviour isn’t accidental, and that a number of practical interests are behind Jordan’s actions.
"King Abdullah of Jordan is desperate for financial aid [as his country goes through an acute financial crisis - ed.] but he doesn't want to come to the Americans as a beggar. So he tries to position himself as a pivotal player and a mediator between the sides".
Yet, despite these and similar efforts, Inbari is certain that a breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian front is nowhere in sight. And the main culprit for this impasse can be found within the Palestinians themselves.
Relations between Fatah, that governs the West Bank, and Hamas, an Islamic movement that controls the Gaza Strip, soured in 2007, following a coup that saw the ouster of Fatah officials from the coastal enclave.
Since then, the two movements have taken different approaches in their dealings with Israel. They stressed the righteousness of their path and pointed out the mistakes of their rivals. 
Fatah, who embraced the Oslo Accords of 1993 and recognised Israel, agreed to drop its involvement in terror but used boycotts and pressure on the international community to advance their cause.
Hamas opted for staging terror acts against both civilian and military targets in Israel. 
"President Abbas doesn't represent all the Palestinians. He cannot sign anything in their name because of this division. And for him to make a peace with Israel, he will need the support of Hamas, which remains a rather unlikely prospect".
The two rival Palestinian factions have tried to put their differences aside on a number of occasions. For instance, at the beginning of the year, it even seemed a reconciliation between the two was on the horizon. But at the end of April, these hopes were shattered following a decision by Abbas to postpone parliamentary elections, meant to be the first of their kind in 15 years.
Palestinian protester throws back a tear gas grenade during a protest over the killing of a Palestinian man by Israeli soldiers, according to health ministry, in Beita in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 28, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.08.2021
Video: Palestinians Protest in West Bank, Burning Installations of Star of David & Swastika
At the time, Abbas tried to pin the blame for his decision on Tel Aviv, noting that because Israel wouldn’t allow voting to take place in East Jerusalem, the elections could not go ahead. East Jerusalem is a bone of contention between the Jewish state and the Palestinians. But Hamas viewed it as an attempt to minimise their power in the West, something that only deepened the rift with Fatah.
Yet, Inari is certain that the strife with Hamas is just one of Abbas' headaches, another is the split within his own Fatah movement.
"Abbas understands that in order for him to make progress with Israel, he will need to change his own government as there are many elements there, who oppose any progress on that front". 
"Here you have Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and the Foreign Minister Riyadh Al Maliki, who is engaged in an anti-Israel campaign around the world. Of course, you also have those, who would like to expand those ties but they are a minority".

A Divided Israel

If that isn’t enough, the Israeli government is divided as well. The majority of the nation’s political parties support the “Jewishness” of Israel, while others don’t see a place for two states residing side by side. The idea of splitting Jerusalem is an anathema, and for some the return of Palestinian refugees is totally out of the question.
Liberal circles with a representation in the Knesset take a milder approach to the issue. They have an open channel to President Abbas, but Inbari says communications between the sides are limited to economic and social issues only.
"The Israeli government is based on the principle that the Palestinian issue cannot be resolved and thus needs to be delayed. And this is the reason why I believe the status quo will remain and there won't be any progress in talks, not any time soon".
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