Where last month the European Council decreed that there can only be a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Jerusalem as capital of both nations, US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is more nuanced, stating that Israel “annexed” East Jerusalem so that “for the Israelis, what they’re building in, is in part of Israel.”
Previously the United States demanded that Israel halt settlement construction altogether before any negotiations could resume. This was an unfortunate foreign policy failure on the part of the Obama Administration for it strengthened the Palestinians in their resolve in spite of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s compromise to stop construction except of settlements already being built and homes being erected in Jerusalem.
The administration was not discouraged however and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went on to meet with Tony Blair who still represents the Western world in regards to the Middle Eastern conflict. “It’s a difficult moment right now,” said Blair at the time, “but then it always is.” As we noted previously, “it is not unthinkable that Clinton […] will take on [the challenge of bringing peace to the Middle East] herself, shunting the [envoy] aside.”
Especially Jerusalem is a “very complicated, difficult [and] emotional” matter “on all sides,” acknowledged Mitchell.
Our view is, let’s get into negotiations, let’s deal with the issues and come up with a solution to all of them including Jerusalem which will be exceedingly difficult, but in my judgment, possible.
Indeed, Mitchell thinks he doesn’t need more than two years to finish the job. “Personally I think it can be done in a shorter period of time.” On top of that, the former senator noted that negotiations between Israel and Syria could operate in conjunction with any Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. As with any issue, the Obama Administration certainly doesn’t lack ambition when it comes to the Middle East though it’s not difficult to be skeptical considering that the conflict had raged for more than half a century already.