The Ezra Klein Show
Why the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process Failed
The podcast episode discusses the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, its failures, and the need for strong political leaders. It explores the approaches of Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter, the role of James Baker and the Madrid peace conference, the Oslo Accords, the Camp David Summit, the lack of a Palestinian counter-offer, challenges in negotiations, and the uncertain future. The episode concludes with recommendations for stronger Palestinian leadership and books on the topic.
Deals for peace require political leaders who can deliver and have support.
Political leaders who want, make, sell, and enforce a deal are crucial for successful peace agreements.
Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter had different approaches but were serious peacemakers.
Kissinger used strategy and both honey and vinegar to push for agreements, while Carter had a personal commitment to resolving the conflict based on his early interest in Israel.
James Baker played a significant role in bringing Palestinians into negotiations.
Baker's diplomatic skills and the Madrid peace conference helped prevent major confrontations and brought Palestinians into the discussion.
The Camp David Summit was ill-advised and ill-managed, leading to its failure.
The summit did not result in a successful agreement due to poor planning and management.
The lack of a Palestinian counter-offer influenced the outcome of negotiations.
The absence of a counter-offer from Palestinians affected the progress and understanding of their role in the conflict.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict lacks strong leadership and effective mediation.
The conflict persists due to the absence of leaders who can navigate politics, take ownership, mediate effectively, and establish an organizing framework.
Stronger Palestinian leadership is necessary for progress in negotiations.
To make any headway in negotiations, there needs to be stronger leadership on the Palestinian side.
Creating conditions for new leadership in Palestine is challenging.
Given the complex dynamics between Israel and Palestine, creating an environment for new leadership to emerge is difficult.
A Biden plan could improve American credibility in resolving the conflict.
Concrete steps accompanying a Biden plan could enhance American credibility and bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to resolving the conflict.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict faces current challenges and uncertainties.
Challenges such as forced displacement, Israeli policies, and lack of protection for Palestinians contribute to the uncertainty of resolving the conflict.
- The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
- Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter's Approaches
- James Baker and the Madrid Peace Conference
- The Oslo Accords and Camp David Summit
- Arafat's Role and Lack of Palestinian Counter-Offer
- Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and Lack of Progress
- Challenges and Future Prospects
- Uncertain Future and Recommendations
- Current Challenges and Recommended Books
The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
00:04 - 08:11
- The podcast episode discusses the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the reasons for its repeated failures.
- Deals for peace are not just about compromises and concessions but also about deal makers who can deliver and have political support.
- There are many ideas for what an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement could look like, but there has been a lack of political leaders who want, make, sell, and enforce a deal.
- The work of the next generation should focus on building and supporting political leaders and movements that can achieve a deal.
Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter's Approaches
07:58 - 16:02
- Henry Kissinger achieved breakthroughs in the Israeli-Arab conflict by recognizing opportunities and using strategy to lay the groundwork for an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
- Kissinger's approach involved both honey (confidence-building) and vinegar (pressure) to push both sides towards an agreement.
- Jimmy Carter had a personal commitment to resolving the conflict based on his early interest in Israel from a biblical perspective.
- Carter's single-mindedness, focus, moral frame, and pursuit of peacemaking set him apart from other American leaders.
James Baker and the Madrid Peace Conference
15:33 - 24:24
- James Baker was a brilliant tactician and had the support of the White House during his tenure as Secretary of State.
- Baker's diplomatic skills were highlighted by his ability to get various parties involved in the Arab-Israeli issue to sit down for negotiations.
- The Madrid peace conference in the 90s played a significant role in preventing major Arab-Israeli confrontations that had occurred in previous decades.
- Baker created a figurative table for negotiations, bringing Palestinians into the discussion for the first time, although their representation was still evolving.
The Oslo Accords and Camp David Summit
23:56 - 32:24
- The image of Rabin and Arafat shaking hands on the White House lawn, with Clinton next to them, marked a significant moment in the US, Israeli, Palestinian peace process.
- The signing ceremony hosted by the United States on September 13, 1993, signaled a point of no return in the negotiations.
- The Israeli-Palestinian peace process was complicated and fraught with political risk.
- The Camp David Summit was ill-advised and ill-managed, leading to its failure.
Arafat's Role and Lack of Palestinian Counter-Offer
31:55 - 41:33
- The Palestinian leader at Camp David did not make a counter-offer or propose any alternative solutions.
- Arafat's models were full control over Sinai and dismantling all Jewish settlements, so he could not accept the proposed agreement.
- Arafat did not have the authority or power to make a deal on behalf of Palestinians, and his political situation was unstable.
- The absence of a Palestinian counter-offer is significant to Israelis in understanding their role in the conflict.
Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and Lack of Progress
41:20 - 50:10
- Many Israelis believe that the occupation is bad and immoral, but they feel there is no partner for peace on the Palestinian side.
- Palestinians have never presented a counter offer or put forward a proposal during negotiations.
- The trajectory of offers made by Israel validates the Israeli narrative that there has never been a willing partner on the Palestinian side.
- The lack of a counter offer or proposal from Palestinians may have influenced the outcome of negotiations.
Challenges and Future Prospects
49:42 - 58:36
- The proximity problem separates this negotiation from Israel's relationships with other countries in the region.
- There is no one for Israel to negotiate with, as Hamas does not support negotiations and there are more extreme players circling.
- The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not been resolved because there are no leaders on both sides who are masters of their politics, a sense of real ownership, effective mediation, or an organizing framework.
- Stronger Palestinian leadership is necessary for any progress to be made in negotiations.
Uncertain Future and Recommendations
58:19 - 1:07:31
- Creating conditions for new leadership to emerge in Palestine is a challenge, given the complex dynamics between the occupier (Israel) and the occupied (Palestinians).
- Elections are necessary for legitimizing Palestinian leadership, but they may not produce leaders who have both credibility and authority.
- The future of the Palestinian national movement remains uncertain, especially after Mahmoud Abbas passes away. A collegial leadership might emerge.
- A Biden plan could improve American credibility but must be accompanied by concrete steps to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to resolving the conflict.
Current Challenges and Recommended Books
1:07:05 - 1:09:23
- Over a thousand Palestinians have been forced off their land.
- The Israeli government is pursuing a policy towards the West Bank that is excisionist in everything but name.
- Mop and Abbas, the Palestinian leader, is perceived to have done nothing to alleviate Palestinian suffering in Gaza and cannot protect his own constituents in the West Bank.
- The podcast does not provide an answer to how the situation can be resolved.