The Peace Process: Never and Forever

Twenty years after Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords, we examine the US’ role as broker in the peace process.

Twenty years after the historic signing of the Oslo Accords, there is still no resolution in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Since Oslo, we have seen dozens of summits, countless initiatives and several agreements. So,  Empire asks, why are the talks long on process and short on peace? Why have negotiations failed under the sponsorship of the US? And how likely will peace be achieved as long as the US remains the broker?

With Washington’s periodic revival of the peace process, Empire takes stock of the last 20 years, examining the crossroads, important junctures, the twist and turns, and questioning the role that the US has played in this failed process.

I do not see this as a US monopoly even though the US and many of its allies see it as a monopoly.

by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian political leader.

We trace the steps taken to resolve the conflict by successive US administrations – from Clinton, to Bush, to Obama – and the regional impact of the evolving Middle East policy from the post-Cold War pax Americana period through the post-9/11 ‘war on terror’, up to the present day of diminished American influence.

Empire discusses why the peace process is important to the US. And we ask if Washington is an honest broker, or if it is playing the ‘Godfather’.

We try to understand the “special” US-Israel relationship and ask if a fair resolution is even possible.

How do America’s domestic politics impact policy? Have successive US administrations colluded to prevent a Palestinian state? And in such a drawn-out process, can and should anyone else take the reigns of mediator?

On this edition, Empire travels to Ramallah, Jerusalem, Gaza, Norway, France, Washington DC, and Texas to meet those who have been involved in Oslo and subsequent negotiations.

In Oslo, we speak to Terje Rod-Larsen, a Norwegian diplomat who initiated the secret negotiations in Oslo; f rom Ramallah, we hear from Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian negotiator; and in Jerusalem, Yossi Beilin, the Israeli former minister and negotiator who tells us how hopes for peace have been dashed since Oslo.

From the US, we hear from Aaron David Miller, the former negotiator; Edward P. Djerejian, the former US ambassador to Israel and founding director of the James A. Baker III Institute; and Rashid Khalidi, a Columbia University academic who advised the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid Conference and the subsequent Washington talks, he has drawn on that experience in his latest book, Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East .

Joining us in New York, are Daniel Kurtzer, former US Ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005, and professor of Middle Eastern Policy studies at Princeton University; and Alvaro de Soto, the former United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

We are also joined by Peter Beinart, author of Crisis of Zionism , professor of Journalism and Political Science at City University of New York and senior political writer at The Daily Beast ; Noura Erakat, a human rights lawyer, co-editor of Jadaliyya and an adjunct professor of International Human Rights Law in the Middle East at Georgetown University; and Nathan Thrall, a senior analyst with the Middle East & North Africa Program of the International Crisis Group.

Click here to read the full transcript of this episode.

Empire can be seen from the last Sunday of every month at 2000GMT, and is re-aired during the following week at these times GMT: Monday: 1200GMT; Tuesday: 0100GMT; Wednesday: 0600GMT.

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