Research studies

Israel-Palestine Peace Agreements and the Role of Third-Party Mediation

 

Prepared by the researcher    : Dr. Raed M. I. Qaddoura / Strategy and Security Studies / The National University of Malaysia/Assistant Professor of Strategic and International Relations at the Palestinian Universities

Democratic Arab Center

Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Thirteenth Issue – May 2022

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin.

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN  2628-6475
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies

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Abstract

Many attempts have been made to bring Israel and Palestine back to the negotiating table. These attempts included the Oslo Accord of 1993, the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, Geneva Accord of 2003 and the Deal of the Century of 2020. By looking to the previous peace deals, it can be found that the Trump’s Deal of the Century was the last stage and final phase of the Oslo Accord. According to this, Israel, which has taken the Palestinian lands, would give these lands back to the Palestinians and Arabs, and the Arab countries, who engaged with Israel in different wars, can offer their peace and normalization with Israel. This article will highlight on four main peace agreements between Israelis and Palestinians and the role of third-party mediators to end this historical conflict. This paper will discuss whether a new third-party negotiator is capable of ending this issue or not.

Introduction

Israel-Palestine Peace Agreements: An Analysis

The US has played an active and important role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, taking into account the domestic political scene as well as foreign policy that is affected by the centers of power and the political system at home. In other words, this policy is influenced by Republicans and Democrats, the Israeli lobby, national security considerations and economic interests. The US is determined to maintain its dominance in the Middle East and in shaping the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship as well as the relationship between Israel and the whole region. Admittedly, the US interests in the region are many and the US benefits directly from the billions of dollars invested by the governments of the Gulf States for the purchase of weapons and to secure US protection, in addition to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Donnelly has warned that there is a real danger that the incoming Biden Administration will want to place the Israel-Palestinian conflict back at the center of their Middle East strategy, along with again seeking a condominium with Iran. Thus, attempting to return to the past will not only deny the current strategic realities but set the Palestinians up for more misery.

Table 1 A Comparison of Selected Peace Agreements to Resolve

 the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

 

Issue Oslo Accords 1993 Arab Peace Initiative 2002 Geneva Accord 2003 Deal of the Century 2020 Evaluation
Initiators – Norway

– United States

– Israel

– Palestine

Countries of Arab League – Israel

– Palestine

– Switzerland

– United States

– Israel

Agreements involving the US shows its preference for Israel while agreements without Palestinian participation is unfair.
Security The Oslo Accords have divided the areas of the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C. Area A would have been controlled fully by Palestine, while in Area B the civilian affairs would have been controlled by Palestine and the security by Israel. Area C consisting mostly of settler communities would have remained fully under the control of Israel. Once the Arab-Israel conflict ended and enter into full peace with Israel, security for all states of the region will be provided. The Accord has stated clearly that the new Palestinian state should be a non-militarized state.

No other groups or individuals can carry weapons.

Palestinian state to be totally demilitarized.

The external security responsibility would be taken up by Israel.

The Arab Peace Initiative can guarantee the security for both Israeli and Palestinian states. While the Deal of the Century announced a demilitarized Palestinian state.
Borders The permanent border was to be subject to negotiation and decided within the transitional period of five years. However, with the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the decision on the border was never finalized.

 

Withdrawal of Israel from all borders occupied since 1967 including Golan Heights. The borders between the states of Palestine and Israel shall be based on the 1967 lines with some modifications. The Deal doesn’t mention anything about the Israel’s withdrawal from the 1967 lines. Instead, it permits 97 percent of the Israelis of the West Bank to be incorporated and annexed to the state of Israel. The Arab Peace Initiative is the most suitable in vindicating Palestinian rights among all agreements compared.
Settlement The Oslo Accords included in the UN Resolutions 242 and 338 state that negotiations were to be the starting point through which Israel’s border (pre-1967) would be established. Israel’s settlements within the 1967 territories to be removed as Israel will withdraw from those lands. Israel is responsible for removing the settlements and resettling its settlers residing in Palestine’s sovereign lands. Israel would have to compensate the Palestinians with the lands that are presently under the sovereignty of the state of Israel. Trump’s Deal of the Century completely controls the majority of the West Bank lands while the Arab Peace Initiative calls Israel’s settlements to be removed.
Jerusalem The earlier Oslo plan left the future of Jerusalem open to negotiation as there was no details in the Accord. East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital. Both parties, Israelis and Palestinians, to recognize the capitals of each other under their own sovereignty. Jerusalem will be Israel’s capital while the Palestinians will have Abu Dis as their capital. The Trump Peace Plan totally takes away Jerusalem from the Palestinians & is unsuitable to them.
Refugees Issue of refugees not addressed & left to future resolutions while Israel should compensate Palestinians unable to return to their homeland. Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution No. 194. Both parties, Israelis and Palestinians, recognize the UNGAR 194, UNSC 242 and Arab Peace Initiative to end the issue of the refugees. Palestinian refugees will not be able to return to their homeland but given the sanctuary within Palestine or other states. The Arab Peace Initiative calls to settle the refugees issue based on the UNGA Resolution No. 194.

Table 1 illustrates the comparison of selected peace agreements to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. When analyzing the above peace agreements, considerable differences can be observed between the reason behind the formation and the way it was presented to both sides.

 Moreover, these peace plans raise the important question of how the actual provisions will align with each other. The new plan, Trump’s Deal of the Century, was presented in January 2020 without inviting the Palestinian authorities for negotiations. Naturally, the response of the Palestinians was in the form of complete derision. Therefore, the question that begs to be answered is: Does this 181-page document titled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” deserve to be taken as a serious proposal to resolve the major issues of disagreement?

The Role of the Regional Powers in the Middle East

Semin stated that Turkey’s relationship with Egypt had not gone well since el-Sisi’s takeover and likewise with Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s murder. Arab and Muslim countries had reached no consensus on resolving the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. There might exist misunderstandings and minor conflicts of interest between countries, but there should be no misunderstanding in the conflict of the Palestinian cause. Arab countries simply had to unite on this issue as it was too essential an issue to be left unresolved. The Palestinian issue was an issue of innocent blood being shed. Palestinian children were being killed by the Israeli army. Ali Semin’s view, conflict should be solved by the Gulf States, in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, not Cairo or Ankara as Egypt and Turkey had agreements with America, Israel and Europe.

Abdullah commented that Saudi Arabia and Egypt were in the same camp. Since 2002, they were supporting the Arab Peace Initiative 2002. Turkey was not a member of the Arab League and its position was therefore different. What was achievable in the current political situation was to condemn the Israeli policies and practices against what was happening in Jerusalem and to resist the Israeli siege of Gaza. For example, during the Mavi Marmara incident when the Israeli forces attacked a Turkish ship carrying essential supplies for Gaza, Turkey did not completely cut ties with Israel unlike other American countries like Bolivia and Venezuela who completely cut their ties with Israel.

  1. Turkey

According to Altunişik, Turkey has continued to be regarded as a strong and hard player in the Middle Eastern, mostly due to its robust economy and military power. However, in the recent years, it started to use its soft power as manifested in its increased readiness to play the role of a third party or mediator in regional conflict resolution and conflict management. Turkey has assumed such a mediator role in the conflicts in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine and also in Israeli-Syrian conflicts. This increased involvement of Turkey as a third party in the negotiations has been examined by Altunisik and Çuhadar who also elaborated on the factors motivating its foreign policy changes in regard to the Israeli-Syrian conflict and Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As highlighted by the authors, the traditional policy of Turkey in Middle Eastern region has changed considerably during the recent years.

Ertosun emphasized on the intensions of Turkey to play a leading role in Middle East. Turkey began focusing on the issue of Palestine as an integral component of its foreign policy framework in the late 1990s. In the view of the author, although its influence was limited to communication between 2000 and 2009, Turkey took up the role of protecting Palestinian interests when the violent clashes between the Israelis and Palestinians became more intense and frequent. The shift in the orientation of Turkish foreign policy was discussed by Ardiç who characterized it as “Islamization” or “Middle Easternization” within the policy framework containing the following three new diplomacy components: (a)  protectionism towards the Palestinian issues and a simultaneous approach of criticism for Israel, which is coherently characterized by occasional harsh critiques; (b) assistance for Muslims victims in Somalia, Myanmar, South Africa and Syria, thereby advocating their economic, political and humanitarian rights; (c) diplomatic affinity to certain political movements in the Muslim domains (e.g. Hamas in Palestine). According to Pappé, Turkey was one of the few regional countries that openly defended Palestinian rights, in particular those living under siege in the Gaza Strip.

In his article, Turkey’s historical relationship with Israel and the substantial changes in the dynamics of the concerned relation, especially after the rise of Erdogan, was discussed by Kosebalaban. He argued that the close ties Turkey had previously entertained with Israel reflected the distinctively secular identity of the country. Turkey was among those countries in 1949 that recognized Israel and was the first Muslim-majority country to do so.  The new image of Turkey has also been strengthened by the dispute between Tayyip Erdogan and Shimon Peres in 29th January 2009 in Davos. In the recent years, there has been a visible shift in the behavior of Turkey from focusing on describing the issues to that of discussing or proposing ways in which these issues can be solved. Turkey took the initiative to mediate between Syria and Israel, which indicated its inclination towards peaceful and amiable solutions. In 2008 it acted as a facilitator for the resolution of the crisis in Lebanon and also in the context of the intervention in Gaza.

“Turkey, actually, in recent years is one of the few regional countries that tried to protect the Palestinian rights, in particular those who live under siege in the Gaza Strip, so one cannot say it prolongs the conflict,” offered Pappé. According to Abu Amer, Turkey saw itself as a rising state in the Middle East and is the first country in the region that had been accepted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It shared common interests with the Americans, Israelis and Palestinians, and therefore believed that it could play a key role in resolving this conflict, whether through its close relations with Israel (politics, military and security) or in cooperation with America. Turkey was the leading power in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and also believed that its close relationship with Hamas might qualify it to interfere in Palestinian affairs, especially in the Gaza Strip. According to Karmon and Barak, Erdogan tries to present Turkey to the Arab public as a leading power in the Middle East, to gain Islamic legitimacy, and to build an economic infrastructure in the region. Speaking in September 2014 in New York at the Foreign Relations Council (FRC), Erdogan stated:

The Palestinian issue is an important issue that has an impact not just on the Palestinians, but on all the Muslims and everyone who has a conscience in the world. And in fact, the Palestinian issue lies in the heart of many of the issues in the region. And the Israeli government, although they know this sensitivity very well, has not refrained from putting its own people and the people of the region on fire.

Al Sheikh Khalil explained that recently Turkey had started to play a better role in favor of the Palestinian people, within the framework of political assistance to the Palestinian Authority and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. This allowed the Palestinian resistance to catch their breath. Since this intervention was contrary to Israeli interests, the US tried to limit and restrict all the moves that Turkey could take. Sınmaz also agreed that Turkey was different. Turkey stood by the Palestinians. However, it could not resolve this conflict on its own. Qatar was also supporting the Palestinian cause financially.

In general, Turkey had entertained official relations with Israel since its establishment in 1948, explained Saleh. With the arrival of the Justice and Development party after 2002, Turkey had become more sympathetic towards the Palestinian people, especially in the humanitarian context, political framework, Jerusalem and the holy sites. In addition, Turkey had recognized Hamas government and the right of the Palestinian people to express themselves in free and fair elections. It also condemned the siege on Gaza. The official and open relationship with Hamas and the resistance in Gaza at least gave Turkey a moral status by opening up relations with the Palestinian component. As a result, Turkey had become a thorn in the side for Israel. Viewed from the Israeli perspective, Turkey was contributing to prolonging the conflict by supporting the legitimacy of the Palestinian elections and the Hamas leadership, added Saleh. “Turkey has taken a stand, especially recently […] in support of the humanitarian situation in Palestine,” offered Kan. She appreciated President Erdoğan’s efforts in defending the rights of the Palestinians people, which singled him out from previous Turkish presidents. On the other hand, Al-Naami and Özel were not convinced that Turkey played any significant role in the conflict, neither by prolonging it nor by resolving it.

  1. Egypt

According to the Palestinian expert, Mohsen Saleh, after the catastrophe of 1948 and the setback of 1967, there were limited Egyptian and Saudi efforts to support the cause of Palestine. Egypt entered the conflict directly, taking part in the wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 before retreating from its strategic and regional position on the question of Palestine, added Al-Naami and Özel. It signed the Camp David Accord in 1978 and was thus completely neutralized. After that, Egypt’s role became linked to the settlement projects and the so-called realization of Palestinian rights through the two-state solution and not through military action.

In the view of Abu Amer, Egypt was known the “mother of the world” and played the role of mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It had close ties with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas as well as Israel, thus making Egypt the most influential player in this conflict. Egypt had failed to resolve the conflicts in Yemen, Sudan, Renaissance Dam and Libya, and only the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was remaining. Egypt believed that it was in its interest to resolve the conflict and not to prolong it as resolving the conflict promised more opportunities for Egypt in the region. However, its influence on Israel may not be a strong as its influence on Palestine. Ajrami agreed that Egypt’s role had changed. It used to be the largest Arab country that actively supported the Palestinian cause before it signed the Camp David Agreement in 1978 and the peace agreement, which opened an Israeli embassy in Cairo and an Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv, in addition to security and military relations and full coordination under the umbrella of the US. Today, el-Sisi’s regime was actively supporting the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

Sınmaz explained that Egypt was the leader due to its strategic position in the Middle East but could not be an effective negotiator in the conflict after General el-Sisi’s military coup in 2013. This coup had been welcomed by the US and Europe who supported his new regime by giving it international acceptance and legitimacy. When Trump declared Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, President el-Sisi kept silent.  The Sisi regime was in negotiation with the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah and the Israelis but it produced no result. According to Sınmaz, the military coup staged by General el-Sisi in 2013 was supported by the U.S and other European and Arab Gulf countries to upstage Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood who had been showing too much support of Palestine. Today, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were siding with the US against Palestine. When Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Sisi regime kept silent.

Amer shared his view that Egypt was cooperating with the Israelis to protect its own national security and protect the interests of the Egyptian people by securing economic and political aid from the US. Abu Amer confirmed that Egypt played the role of mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It had close ties with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel, which made Egypt an important regional player to find a solution to the conflict. It was interested in resolving the conflict and not prolonging it. A resolution meant opening up more Arab and Israeli relations and thus a benefit for Egypt as a strong power in the region. In short, it might be motivated to find a solution but it might not have the necessary influence on both sides. Saleh commented, “Egypt’s role became linked to the settlement projects and the so-called realization of Palestinian rights through the two-state solution and not through the military path.” Saudi Arabia had also never been engaged in direct battles with Israel.

The relationship of Egypt with that of Israel experienced a major turning point in 1977, as suggested by Rabinovich. This was due to the different diplomatic approach adopted after the war of 1973 with the peace negotiations lead by Sadat and Begin. In March 1979 the confrontation between Egypt and Israel had come to an end, with the signing of a formal peace treaty, which greatly increased the security of Israel in the region. However, the peace between the two countries was not a warm peace, much of which could be attributed to the lack of the treaty’s implementation in Palestine, the largely hostile environment in Egypt and the persistent discomfort and sense of enmity between both neighbors.

This led to the persistence of a frosty relationship between the two countries under the Mubarak regime. The signing of the Oslo Accords by the PLO and Israel in 1993 also did not culminate into a normalized relationship. On the contrary, the fear among the Egyptians regarding the regional hegemony of Israel only increased with the formal declaration of peace between the PLO and Israel as Egypt became increasingly wary of the ambiguous nuclear policy of Israel. Hamas, currently the ruling party of Gaza, is perceived in Cairo as an extended militarist wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and also as a governing framework with no legitimization, as argued by Dickstein. The Gaza-Egypt relationship has also been affected by the dismissal of Hamas by el-Sisi and his order to close the Rafah border crossing, effectively cutting Gaza off from Egypt.

On the other hand, Israeli-Egyptian relations have gained impetus under the Sisi regime, illustrated for example by the agreement to supply of natural gas (of 6.25 trillion cubic feet) from Israel to Egypt and the planned construction of a pipeline. Thus, Egypt has clearly moved away from being a Hamas supporter and a trusted negotiator between Israel and Gaza. Although it still wishes to remain an indispensable component of any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, it has dismissed Hamas and does not acknowledge its legitimacy. Egypt has made it clear that only without Hamas any permanent peace can be achieved, which can be seen from the various proposals put forward by Cairo during the Israel-Gaza conflicts of 2014.

  • Saudi Arabia

According to Pappé, Saudi Arabia under Muhammad Bin Salman wished to consolidate its role as America’s principal ally in the region. Hence, it followed the American policy, which by itself prolonged the conflict. In the past, Saudi Arabia refrained from any direct involvement with Israel, although it had supported the Arab forces in previous wars and also provided support for the Palestinian people, explained Saleh. During the last decades, it redirected its attention to resolution projects such as the Saudi Peace Initiative in 1981 and the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002, said Saleh. Thereafter, Saudi Arabia sided with Egypt on resolution projects and the two-state solution. According to Saleh’s opinion, Saudi Arabia would not normalize its relations with the Israeli entity unless the Palestinians agreed to the two-state solution. The recent developments suggested that Saudi Arabia had weakened its resolve in this matter given the current state of normalization reflected in Trump’s deal. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s role in the prolongation of the conflict may be reduced, according to perceptions contrary to the Arab project or the Arab initiative project, concluded Saleh.

Abu Amer was convinced that Saudi Arabia was like Egypt lagging behind in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Since the reign of King Abdullah and the start of the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 it had accomplished nothing worth of mention until Trump’s “deal of the century” under Mohammed bin Salman. It was obvious that Saudi Arabia viewed the unresolved conflict as an opportunity to normalize its relations with Israel. Balawi commented that Saudi Arabia was driven primarily by its urge to eliminate any potential threat in the region, either by subjecting it through external force (Yemen, Iraq) or by destroying it internally (Egypt). In order to protect its own interests, it maintained close ties with the western powers, the US and Israel by proxy. Under the Israeli prime minister, Shimon Peres, Saudi hostility was transformed to other regional threats such as militant Islam and Iran. If the Palestinians were to accept the current situation, Israel’s position would remain secure and stable and it would continue to protect Saudi Arabia from Iran or any other perceived treats in the region.

Beginning with the Prince Fahd initiative in Beirut and the Arab initiative, the process of normalization commenced, inaugurated by the Egyptian normalization with Israel in 1977 (Camp David) followed later by Fatah and the PLO’s Oslo agreement and in 1994 the Araba agreement by Jordan. The recent Bahrain workshop was attended by Arab states also with the intention of normalizing their relations with Israel under the pretext of economic peace and economic well-being. However, he concluded, the Arab public and the national liberation movements knew that occupation and colonization would never provide economic stability and peace.

Saudi Arabia’s role in the aspects of regional negotiation and mediation can be seen in the position it assumes in Arab-Israeli affairs, as pointed out by Kostiner. A more active role in the conflict would have demanded moral weight which Saudi Arabia did not possess. It also lacked the military experience and leadership personnel. Saudi Arabia was more appropriate as a coordinator for the region as it had the adequate amount of financial strength and political experience. As highlighted by Sachs, a rift has appeared between the traditional powers in the Arabian region, like those of Saudi Arabia, and the modern emerging powers like Egypt, Turkey, Qatar and others with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The traditional Arab regimes share similar interests with Israel as both have entered disputes with Iran over its nuclear programs and also with Hamas in Palestine. However, the basis for such cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel are vested interests which form a rather unpredictable and shallow base and can change any time and over any context.

Similarly, Pappé reckoned that Saudi Arabia would not play any significant role in resolving the conflict other than consolidating its role as America’s principal ally in the region. According to Peterson, Riyadh has never admitted to being in direct communication with Tel Aviv, which is not surprising since it has always avidly supported Palestine, at least officially. However, Saudi Arabia has taken up the role of a moderator, with the objective of preaching the benefits of peace and also for encouraging active negotiation channels among its Arab allies. Semin agreed that Saudi Arabia, like most Gulf countries, preferred investing in US projects rather than supporting the Palestinians. Saudi Arabia just recently invested $60 billion worth of arms. Regrettably, Trump regarded the Gulf countries as a commercial enterprise and business opportunity. He added, “Peace does not want any money or any trade or anything to give it as a reward. But the conflict wants money and trade, the conflict is more precious than peace.”

Muslim countries were lacking strategy, unity and understanding, commented another expert, Atlas. Also, political actors in Gaza were manipulating in this issue such as Saudi Arabia which was completely blind to the Palestinian issue and had no interests at stake in the conflict. The so-called “deal of the century” and the identity of Jerusalem were all part of prolonging the conflict. Only Turkey had immediately reacted by organizing a conference in Istanbul to voice its protest. However, Turkey stood alone, while Egypt remained silent and Saudi Arabia allied with Trump. The normalized relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel were related to the complete loss of Saudi credibility after the Khashoggi’s case and Iran. Mohammed Bin Salman’s regime had to rally international support, in particular that of the US, and thus saw itself forced to think and act strategically, “without thinking about values, religion, ethics and international law,” commented Amer. The same conclusion was reached by Kan.

The Role of Third-Party Mediation

For the past decades, the traditional mediator used to be as a third-party negotiator in the conflicts all over the world. The most influential mediator is the US due to its hegemonic power. On the other hand, there are examples of other mediation of peace agreements led by Islamic countries as a third-party mediator. In this section, the researcher is giving a brief discussion to highlight some peace agreements done by Islamic third-party countries. For Israel-Palestine issue, Israel as the strongest side, has favored mutual talks whereas the Palestinians have chosen to have a mediator in any peace talk.

  1. The Malaysian Mediation

In 1976, peace process hosted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) led to the Tripoli Agreement between the government of Manila and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who represented the Moro people who faced the Spanish about 377 years, and the Americans about 40 years, and then the US annexed the region to the state of Philippines. Even though the MNLF accepted the agreement with the government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) became the main and biggest military group operating in Mindanao. The challenge of the global security posed by the MILF military group called on the international community towards a complete peace agreement, especially after 9/11. Historically, Malaysia played a main role as a fair mediator in the peace process in Mindanao between the government of Manila and the MILF. In 2014, and after many rounds of negotiations, following decades of bloody conflict that killed about 150,000 people, Comprehensive Agreement was signed at the palace of the president.

A number of factors led to the peace agreement signed between the government and the MILF. One of these factors was that the Philippine President Aquino III had adopted a peace discourse since he won the election in 2010. He knew that his government had to choose accomplishing peace with the people of Moro in order to achieve stability and a better future for the state of Philippines. Also, since the 1970s, the MILF has adopted a jihadist discourse which provided it with international support from different countries. Its leader Salamat Hashim was able to enhance the influence of the Front among the Moro people until it reached its peak at the end of the 1990s to the point that the Philippine government feared that the independence of Moro would soon be achieved. However, after years of initial talks with Manila, and with the beginning of the new century, the discourse of the MILF began a process of change that was completed after the death of its founder Hashim in 2003. The new leadership headed by Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim has moved towards the political-diplomatic channels. This helped the MILF to talk directly to many international parties, including the US.

Malaysia is one of the countries close to the Moro issue and there is a strong relation with Mindanao due to its geographical proximity in addition to the cultural and religious ties between the Malay and Moro peoples. The Malaysian military was at the head of the international observer that played a pivotal role in securing the validity of the cease-fire between the government of Philippine and the MILF throughout the negotiations. Also, Malaysia’s interest to stabilize the region, which has remained a springboard for other armed groups threatening foreign tourists, in the Malaysian state of Sabah, threatening the stability of Moro’s land, in addition to the many economic benefits represented in the population movement and trade exchange between eastern Malaysia and Mindanao. In addition, although the Americans did not particularly oppose the MILF, as it is not on Washington’s list of terrorist organizations, the circumstances of the war on terror formed political pressure on the Front to be more open for a political solution. It is important to note that the US interests in peace in Mindanao is also linked to other strategic and economic interests that the US will gain in a strategically, wealthy, and geographically important region.

As a result of many political and economic interests, it is noted that there are many regional and international parties supported the peace negotiations between the government of Philippine and the MILF, which was hosted under Malaysian mediation. Other countries such as Indonesia, EU, UK, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were present and welcomed the peace agreement.

Palestinians and Moros: Similarities

Table 2 : The Similarities in the Palestinian and the Moro Issue

  The Palestinian People The Moro People
Origin of the Problem The British Mandate which granted the lands of the Palestinian people, the owner of the lands, to the Jew settlers. The American colonial government which annexed the Moros’ lands, the owner of the lands, to the Philippine state.
Application of the Principle of Nationalism

(Owners’ point of views)

Around 97 per cent of Palestinians share one religion, ethnicity, language, beliefs and traditions. Around 24 per cent of Moros’ people in Mindanao Region share same religion, ethnicity, language and beliefs
International Community Involvement ·                   The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Partition Plan known as Resolution 181 which recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States.

·                   The United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 which was adopted by the UN Security Council in November 22, 1967 and called for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in 1967.

·  Camp David Accords, 1978.

·  The Madrid Conference, 1991.

·  Oslo Agreement, 1993.

·  Camp David, 2000.

·  Arab Peace Initiative, 2002.

·  Roadmap, 2003.

·  Geneva Accord, 2003.

·  Annapolis, 2007.

·  Washington, 2010.

·  Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’, 2019.

· The 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the government and Moro National Liberation Front.

·  The 1987 Jeddah Accord, The Organization of Islamic Conference.

·  The Jakarta Agreement of 1996.

·  The role of Malaysian Government mediation between the Philippines government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

·  The role of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) as a mediator between the Philippines government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Historical Rights ·      The Right of Return for the Palestinian Refugees to their homelands.

·      Applying the Principle of Palestinian Autonomy.

·      Applying the Palestinian Principle of Sovereignty.

·  The Right of Self-Determination.

·  Applying the Principle of Autonomy for the lands of Moros in the Southern Philippines.

Current Situation An Israeli rejection to achieve any kind of peace solutions with the Palestinians due the U.S support to the Israeli policies and actions regionally and globally.

The Israeli refusal caused more lost for the Palestinians lands and rights.

After long decades of conflicts, a successful deal has been done the Philippine government, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as well as with the leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) to end this conflict and to achieve long-lasting peace and sustainable development for the Bangsamoro people.

  1. The New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) Mediation

On 22-23 April 2005, a representative from 106 Asian and African countries consisting of 54 Asian countries and 52 African countries renewed their long-standing solidarity at the 2005 Asia Africa Summit in Jakarta. The most important outcome of the Summit was the Declaration on the New Asian African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). The NAASP Declaration is an indicator of the establishment of new connections and links between Asia and Africa which consist of three categories: political solidarity, economic cooperation and socio-cultural relations and people-to-people contact. The issue of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the issue of freedom and independence of Palestine remain an important matter for NAASP. In August 22, 2008, the Asian and African ministers attended the historical General Assembly and the Security Council Assembly to indorse the NAASP commitment in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle to establish an independent state based on the UN resolutions.

The NAASP denied the expansion of Israeli settlement in the Palestinian Territory, in addition to the restrictions and building of the Israeli Wall in the West Bank. As a kind of solidarity and sympathy with the people of Palestine. In 2008, the General Assembly of the UN have been attended by more than 56 representatives from both Asia and Africa, in addition to countries from the region of Latin American and numerous global organizations. The importance of attending the General Assembly meeting reflected the NAASP’s commitment amongst the Asian and African countries in supporting the issue of Palestine. Also, the countries of NAASP shared mutual opinions that establishing a practical and prosperous state for the Palestinian will help to impose the peace in the Middle East region.

  1. The Turkish Mediation

Due to its strategic location and its powerful regime, Tukey has played a main role in mediation between Israel and Syria. Turkey made itself as an honest broker to be as an acceptable mediator in the region of the Middle East. After two years of peace talks and negotiations, Turkey made a deal between Israel and Syria to continue their talks through the Turkish mediation. It can be noticed that Israel and Syria would not be able to reach a final deal without the US presence. Before the accident of Mavi Marmara ship that attacked by Israeli navy, Turkey was the only Muslim country that had a strong relation with Israel. Also, Turkey is a member in The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which can be used to raise the awareness of the importance of peace agreements. Turkey offered its soldiers under peace-keeping forces in any future peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. After the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000, the Turkish mediation is being noticeable and Turkey has started to play the role of negotiator to stop the outbreak of the Intifada and call both Israelis and Palestinians to resume the peace talks.

Previously, Turkey had had a good relation with both Israelis and Palestinians. In many occasions, both governments of Israel and Palestine asked for Turkey’s assistance. Israel has called on Turkey to persuade the Palestinians and specially Hamas movement to recognize the state of Israel and to stop attacking the Israeli settlements. The same goes for the Palestinians before as they used to request from Turkey to call Israel restart and resume the negotiation with the Palestinians. Turkey’s relations with Israel were realized as an advantage that could help the Palestinians, particularly the engagement of Turkish politicians to call both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, to end the conflict and restart a mutual peace talk. But, the Mavi Marmara incidents led to break the relations between Turkey and Israel. In dealing with the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the government of the Turkish President has its own Islamic thoughts and views, at the same time, it has to keep the secular principles of the state. On the other hand, Turkey faces other challenges from the countries of the Middle East who want to play the same role of mediation between Israel and Palestine.

Conclusion

The one-state solution has been reviewed by many Palestinians and Israelis for dozens of years. It was so difficult for such kind of peace solution to be applied to end this conflict due to its negative impacts on both, the Israelis and Palestinians. The one-state solution will prevent Israel from its own distinctive as a Jewish state and will prevent the Palestinians from the right of self-determination and being an independent state. On the other hand, the two-state solution, which internationally accepted by the majorities of the United Nations’ countries, seems to be denied and no more acceptable by the US Prisedent Trump and his administration and the current government of Israel. The catastrophic situations for the Palestinians due to the Israeli policies on the ground and the new Israeli annexation plan in the West Bank have shown that the governments of the international community must work to find a suitable third-party mediator to help achieve peace agreement based on the two-state solution. After the examples of third-party mediation have been shown, it can be noticed that any third-party mediator should be approved by the US administration. For the Israelis, Palestinians include the PA and the main Palestinian fictions, a srious and direct negotiation can be done through a trusted third-party along with US support. A fair mediator who can bring all sides to the negotiation table. In this case, a new peace deal between all parties can be agreed based on the previous experiences for different third-party roles.

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Soli Özil, an interview. 4th July 2019.

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