Arab League and EU must lead future peace talks

Published: 27 March 2014 at 11:34

Ehud Barak’s former adviser discusses Israel-Palestine conflict in Anglia Ruskin lecture

Professor Moshe Amirav, a key adviser to former Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak, last night called for the Arab League and the European Union to replace the United States as the key intermediary in negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Speaking to students at Anglia Ruskin University’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in Cambridge, Professor Amirav said that the United States has “no real tools with which to pressure either side” in future peace talks.

“Israel and the Palestinians on their own are clearly not capable of reaching peace,”
“Meanwhile the United States can no longer be considered an honest broker for all the protagonists in future talks.  A suitable arbitrator must not only be ready to reward the two sides for any concessions they are ready to make, but also ready to bang their heads together when necessary.
“The United States has no real tools with which to pressure either side.  Clearly, a fourth party needs to wield its influence, and, in my opinion, any arm-twisting that is to be applied to the Palestinian side can only come from the Arab League.”

said Amirav, now Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Professor Amirav attended former US President Bill Clinton’s Camp David summit in 2000, which saw Ehud Barak sit down with Yasser Arafat, and was again at Barak’s side in 2001 at the Taba summit in Egypt.

After a 30-year diplomatic career that has seen him hold talks with the leaders of Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, Professor Amirav believes an improved relationship between Israel and the rest of the Arab world, including Syria, is necessary before there is any chance of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He added:

“We cannot separate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Israeli-Arab conflict as a whole.  For years we have been told that solving the first will bring peace with the Arab world.  I want to suggest that it should be the other way round: first Israel must achieve peace with the Arab world.
“The issue of peace with Syria, despite recent events, is, in some ways, far more achievable.  Peace with Syria, in my opinion, is even more important and urgent than peace with the Palestinians.  Ending the dispute between Israel and the Arab states would make it much easier to later find solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”