While the United States clearly failed in Negotiation 101 by advancing a peace process that had no chance of success, it is Europe that is failing Negotiation 102.
A basic question in any negotiation is “or what?” If talks break down, where does one stand? Can a party achieve more by having negotiations fail? If so, there would be no motivation to negotiate earnestly.
Those are the questions that acting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is weighing now. Can he get more from the world than he can from negotiating directly with Israel? Based on his assessment of the United Nations and countries willing to prematurely recognize a Palestinian State, he believes that he will achieve greater concessions through a globally mandated solution.
Abbas has been developing this backup (primary?) campaign for several years. The two principal components are recognition (of Palestine) and marginalization (of Israel). The recognition of Palestine as a state started with UNESCO in 2011. Abbas has continued to work other United Nations agencies and countries around the world to recognize the PA as a sovereign state. In the fall of 2014, Sweden and other European countries began to give Abbas what he desired.
The tool that Abbas hopes will be used to pressure Israel into accepting a globally imposed solution is the BDS (boycott, divest and sanction) movement. If Abbas can convince the world to cease doing business and trade with Israel, he feels that the world can dictate a solution upon Israel which is very reliant on exports for its economy.
As/if European countries move forward with recognizing a state of Palestine and penalizing Israel economically, they effectively will halt any chance for direct peace negotiations. Abbas will not return to the negotiating table while he believes that the world will award him a country with greater borders and controls than he could win in negotiations with Israel.
Even if Abbas doesn’t secure everything he desires from world bodies over the near-term, he would still continue down the unilateral course, as he believes it would position him better in negotiations with Israel at a future point in time, securing whatever advantages he can now. He would further bolsters his credibility with Palestinian Arabs by not giving any concessions while winning Israeli concessions from the world.
And what does Israel gain in a failed peace process? What is its “or what?”
The only “advantage” Israel gains in stalled talks is continuing to permit Jews to move to Judea and Samaria, which may solidify territories under Israeli control in a final settlement. But it loses significantly at the same time from the lack of peace. For eight years it has had Palestinians attacking its citizens from Gaza. It watches Hezbollah in Lebanon gather more weaponry and ready for war. Iran moves forward towards nuclear weapons while calling for Israel’s destruction. As such, the failure of reaching a peace agreement continues to threaten the country. What other country in the world has bomb shelters in every house and every hotel? What other country over the past twenty years has needed to distribute gas masks to its citizens? What other country in the world has countries that refuse to acknowledge its existence? To threaten the country with extermination?
Currently, European and the United Nations’ actions are actively encouraging the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations with Israel. How far will they continue to move in this direction?
UNESCO recognizes Palestine: http://world.time.com/2011/10/31/palestinian-statehood-gets-recognized-unesco-whats-next/
Sweden recognizing Palestine: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/03/sweden-recognise-state-palestine
Saeb Erekat calling for BDS: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Erekat-Israel-preparing-major-settlement-expansion-annexation-355397
Related FirstOneThrough article:
Failing Negotiations 101: the United States https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/failing-negotiation-101-the-united-states/