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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Bypassing peace

Israel doesn't back down from new settlements

The world's oldest conflict has taken another detour this past week.
In hopes of breathing new life into the Middle East peace process, the United States sent Vice President Joe Biden to Israel to hold talks with the Israeli government. All seemed to be going according to plan until the Israeli Lands Authority and Ministry of Housing and Construction announced an additional 1,600 new housing units to be built in East Jerusalem.
This took many in the international community by surprise, even the United States and Palestine.
The United States and Israel have been on rocky footing since the Obama administration came into office. The current US administration has condemned the proposed housing project. President Barack Obama had asked the Israelis to place a firm ban on all new housing settlements as a good faith gesture to come back to the negotiating table.
In return, other Arab nations would engage in confidence building measures. Such measures usually mean an exchange of information, generally about military forces and armaments. The intention of such measures is to build trust between two conflicting parties.
The current model of the peace plan would have two separate states, one being a Jewish state, the other being a Palestinian state.
One of the main reasons the peace process has been bogged down is because of the disputed claims over Jerusalem. West Jerusalem would be part of the Jewish state, while East Jerusalem would be incorporated into the new Palestinian homeland.
Washington officials have grown weary of the missteps taken by both sides. Many called for the United States to reexamine its aid to Israel. The United States total aid to Israel is reaching $114 billion, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a not-for-profit foundation.
Officials from both governments have made assurances that this disagreement is just that and its strong ties have not been severed.
Many within Israeli politics believe that this is just another step to make Jerusalem undividable as part of the two-state solution. The reaction from the Palestinians has been one of demonstrations against Israel.
Clashes between Israeli police and Arab youths were reported throughout Israel on Tuesday. The situation will quickly fall apart if no steps are taken to rectify the situation.
The continuation of building is a major roadblock on the avenue to peace. It almost seems that the Israeli government doesn't want peace, or if it does, that it only wants it to be on their terms.
The trouble with this particular negotiation is that there is such a blood-soaked history that neither side will be willing to give up more. For Obama, engagement has only gotten the process this far.
Seven American presidents have tried to broker deals in the Middle East and all have failed. Nobody thought it would be easy to accomplish.
Many members of the Democratic Party have even lambasted President Obama's actions, calling them a "temper tantrum."
For the rest of the world, it becomes a game of watching, waiting and hoping for the best.


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