As John Kerry begins blaming others for the latest collapse in the Israel-Palestinian peace process, perhaps the lesson for all is that the USA should not be the one to lead them.
Come to think of it, what peace has the USA successfully brokered anywhere in the world lately?
Surely, the ones managing the talks should be those who have been here before; experienced what we are and somehow still survived.
The time has come for USA to step aside and hand the reigns to a delegation comprising both British and Irish players to show the leaders over here how it’s done. Leaders previously entrenched in fighting each other, and helping others overcome their battles could inject fresh optimism into the arena.
Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, expressed interest in advancing the peace process using his experiences in Northern Ireland and Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, is the special envoy to the Middle East Quartet and yet neither have been seen in the current talks. They should be at the forefront for they have truly experienced a similar conflict. Adams could be a useful voice of reason to Hamas, as similar in its strategies and goals as the IRA was to the UK.
Blair has already suggested new ideas for peace, based heavily on the ideas of the Peace Valley plan, showing clearly that the peace process needs greater third party involvement, as was the case in Northern Ireland where numerous NGOs provided opportunities increasing trust and helping the parties encounter the other’s position.
Most of the third party involvement in the current talks has been led by USA While they have committed to ending the conflict, they aren’t getting anywhere. Including more diplomats from other countries could be advantageous in producing results.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, remarked in 2009 that Israel has a lot to learn from Ulster:
“There are many differences, even the craziest people in Northern Ireland did not claim London as their capital. But I really believe we can learn something from every conflict.”
Remarkably, there are more similarities than differences between these two conflicts:
1) In 1969, Belfast began erecting ‘peace lines’, walls and fences to separate the Protestants and Catholics. A study in 2012 indicated that 69% of residents believe that the peace walls were still necessary because of potential violence,yet the- parties recognise the potential and have mutually committed to the removal of all peace lines by 2023.
2) The IRA declared a ”Long War” on the UK and described their strategy in an induction and training manual in 1977 accordingly:
1 )A war of attrition causing as many deaths as possible to create demand from the British people at home for their withdrawal.
2) Bombing campaigns to make the enemy’s financial interests unprofitable and curbing long term investment in it.
…..4) To sustain the war and gain support for its ends by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.
Sound familiar ? Yet, in 2005, the IRA ended its violent campaign. It ordered all units to dump arms and assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means.
3) All signed the ‘Principle of Consent’ declaration stating the legitimacy of the aspirations of both sides and underlying the right of self determination for all involved.
It may have taken over 35 years but the Israeli-Arab conflict needs faith; this has been done by others and can be done again.
Blair believes in legitimizing both sides and bringing Hamas and Hezbollah to the debate. Hamas has not been involved because of their violent nature. Ending violence should remain the prerequisite. However, without giving EVERY group a voice in the political arena, groups will continue to use violence, as was the case in N. Ireland. These groups are supported by many civilians and accordingly often disregarded by those seeking peace.
There will always be paramilitary groups threatening peace even when violent factions lay down their arms. Just as there are still offshoots of the IRA, so may there be offshoots of Hamas in the future. Over time, though, more and more people will desire peace and integration.
The Israelis need to build from the bottom up and the Palestinians need to understand that Israel will only tolerate a Palestinian state that is a stable and secure neighbour…”
The factions in Ireland still hate each other’s guts but at least they don’t kill each other anymore.