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The ‘Peace Day Effort’ offered ambiguity and impunity

Palestine and Israel flag on barbed wire. [Stock photo via Getty Images]
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The EU’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans, has succeeded in carving out a niche for ambiguity amid all the non-binding UN resolutions, peace initiatives, normalisation agreements and the two-state compromise. The Peace Day Effort, which was held on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in a joint effort between the EU, Saudi Arabia, the League of Arab States and the Kingdom of Jordan, seeks to revive the two-state compromise by coming up with a series of incentives and rewards for Israel and Palestine, should an agreement be reached and implemented.

“This particular effort is 100 percent carrots,” Koopmans was quoted as stating by the Times of Israel. “But that doesn’t mean that everything in EU policy is just that.”

However, the “Peace Day Effort” was held at a time when the normalisation agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel is the latest distraction from the issue of Israeli colonisation of Palestine. Hypothetically, if the two-state compromise is what the EU seeks to preserve, why is the bloc joining initiatives that will not live up to any aspirations? Israel has enough diplomatic and economic relations to bolster its international standing, while Palestinians are constantly promised less and expected to wait until Israel is ready to negotiate, which it never will be.

Koopmans knows that this collaborative initiative will be taking place alongside more powerful agreements that Israel will favour, including long-standing ones with the US, for example. On the other hand, despite any misgivings regarding the “Peace Day Effort”, the Palestinian Authority would be an easier target to convince, given its weaker political position and illegitimate rule. It is the PA that will be seeking what to glean from agreements that will possibly not come to fruition, because Israel carved out a political path that brought diplomats on board, even as the two-state paradigm remains part of international rhetoric. The outcome, therefore, is clearly a time-waster for Palestinians. Israel, on the other hand, can continue using the time wasted by the international community to expand further on Palestinian territory, while reaping the benefits of normalisation agreements with countries that choose that path.

Offering incentives rather than punitive measures is how Israeli media reported Koopmans describing the “Peace Day Effort”. Punitive measures against Israel are non-existent; therefore, there can be no juxtaposition of one scheme against another. However, more ambiguity has been introduced. Why would the participants in the conference spend time focusing on what countries can contribute if an agreement is reached, knowing that the two-state compromise is obsolete? What is Koopmans gaining out of this conference? Making the two-state politics relevant again at a time when Israel has unfortunately made enough inroads with schemes of its own to gain political and economic support?

What stands out with both the two-state paradigm and the “Peace Day Effort” is the refusal to discuss Israeli colonialism. Both are glossing over the fact that Israeli settler-colonialism needs to be dismantled. While the international community wastes time for Palestinians coming up with ambiguous and deceitful schemes, Israel is utilising the same timeframes to legitimise its colonial enterprise. If punitive measures for Israeli colonisation are eliminated, then Israel gets its confirmation regarding its impunity with regard to the international community.