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European Council on Foreign Relations





Do diplomatic interventions/diplomacy strain or sustain prospects for the negotiated establishment of a Palestinian state?

Current intensity of US involvement in negotiations and EU efforts on settlements somewhat sustains the two-state solution, although change is proceeding slowly and is in no way stable.

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Growing acknowledgment of the urgency of restarting the peace process and increasing high-level warnings of a rapidly closing window for achieving a two-state solution were among the reasons that led the United States to renew its engagement in the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) after a period of relative absence. While the US has succeeded in launching peace negotiations based on a nine-month timeline for final-status negotiations, both sides have been unable to agree to clear terms of reference or a negotiating agenda that builds on previous talks. The US has also sought to include greater Arab participation within the peace process, leading to the announcement in Washington on 30 April 2013 by Qatar’s then Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani that the Arab Peace Initiative allowed for comparable and mutually-agreed land swaps along the 1967 borders. This came on the heels of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recognition of Palestine as a non-member state in 2012.

Efforts to bring co-ordinated action to challenge illegal Israeli activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) and curb settlement construction have to date not yielded significant progress. Nor has the European Union succeeded in moderating Israel’s stance vis-à-vis the Palestinians as a reciprocal move for thickening relations despite the suspension of an “upgrade” declared in 2009. Nevertheless, the EU’s decision to issue guidelines excluding settlements from EU projects along with increasing talk of labelling settlement products, and the consequent alarm this has provoked amongst Israelis, represent a potentially significant milestone in attempts to alter Israel’s cost/benefit calculations towards the occupation – although the extent to which the EU will seek ways in which to further apply leverage remains unclear.