2016-06-08 / Editorial

The Paris peace summit was not the best way forward


In the end, the day-long Paris summit meant to spur peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians was not as one-sided as Israeli supporters had feared. Then again, it is doubtful that the international effort will spur productive negotiations between the two sides.

Following five hours of discussion, foreign ministers from more than two dozen countries issued a bland statement asking the Israelis and Palestinians -- neither of whom were invited to attend -- to demonstrate “a genuine commitment to the two-state solution in order to rebuild trust.” Expressing concerns that the window of opportunity for a two-state solution is closing, they also proposed an international conference to further talks by the end of the year.

It’s hard to knock world leaders for attempting to bring peace and stability to the Middle East, yet past international summits have taught us to be skeptical. Leaders favored Palestinian rights over Israel’s security. Echoing Israeli leaders, we believe the path forward must involve direct negotiations – without pre-existing conditions – between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

As Dore Gold, the director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, put it: “The only way to get a stable regional arrangement that will allow us to create real peace in the Middle East is if the parties of the region come to understandings between them.”

The Israeli ministry has called the conference a missed opportunity. It said pressure should have been put on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to talk one on one with Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

There have been numerous rounds of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians since the early 1990s, with the most recent collapsing in acrimony in April 2014.

Gold compared the Paris peace summit to the Sykes-Picot agreement, the 1916 agreement between the United Kingdom and France to carve up the territory of the Middle East. Such international involvement, Gold suggested, would lead peace talks to fail. .

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