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Could peace plan(s) Middle East succeed in 2019?

Next month there will be peace talks in Sweden about Yemen. There has been a civil war for more than three years. The US Defense Secretary Mattis said that "in early December" a delegation of the Houthi rebels and the government will make their appearance in Sweden

By: EBR - Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and home to an estimated 28 million people, began with the 2014 takeover of the capital Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who toppled the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and home to an estimated 28 million people, began with the 2014 takeover of the capital Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who toppled the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi

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By Hans Izaak Kriek*

Next month there will be peace talks in Sweden about Yemen. There has been a civil war for more than three years. The US Defense Secretary Mattis said that "in early December" a delegation of the Houthi rebels and the government will make their appearance in Sweden.

Discussions will take place under the leadership of the United Nations. Where conversations are held in Sweden is still unclear and also an exact date has not yet been announced. The announcement of peace talks comes after the Iranian-backed rebels announced that they would cease their robotic and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies in Yemen, the official government. 

The government then said that they thought about participating in peace talks, to be held in Sweden.

Years of war

The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and home to an estimated 28 million people, began with the 2014 takeover of the capital Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who toppled the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. 

Concerned by the rise of Houthis, believed to be backed by Iran, a. US-backed Saudi-UAE military coalition intervened in 2015 with a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling Hadi’s government. According to the UN, at least 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition entered the conflict. 

Last week, UN Secretary-General Gutteres demanded an ‘immediate’ halt to the fighting, warning that the country stands on a ‘precipice’ and could face the world’s ‘worst famine’ for decades if violence continues unabated.

International powers including the US and Britain have also stepped up calls for an end to the nearly four-year war in recent weeks. The calls came after an earlier attempt to hold peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva in September was abandoned when Houthi representatives refused to attend, saying the UN had failed to meet the group's pre-summit demands. 

Following the collapse of the talks, which would have been the first of their kind in nearly two years, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Houthi-held Hodeidah, a strategically important Red Sea port city.

Is there already a timeline for Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan?

This question is simply to answer with no, because President Donald Trump has not even yet officially announced his new Middle East Peace Plan, but whenever he finally does, it might be dead on arrival because Palestinian leaders are already publicly criticizing and opposing it, which is somewhat surprising since it supposedly hands them

control over east Jerusalem and allows them to establish the capital of their new state of Palestine there.

Hardly a day passes without the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA) affirming its strong opposition to US President Trump yet-to-be-announced Middle East peace Plan, also referred to as the ‘deal of the century’ . Palestinian leaders have convinced their people that Trump is the worst person on the face of the earth and that no one should be doing business with him.

The Palestinian Authority is not the only Palestinian party that continues to voice its opposition to the upcoming peace plan. No Palestinian group or individual has come out in favor the plan, although no one in the Middle East seems to have seen it or knows anything about its details. Trump has united the Palestinians in a way that no Palestinian or Arab has been able to do since the beginning of the Hamas-Fatah war 11 years ago.

The Palestinians are united in their opposition to the Trump administration and its policies, especially in the aftermath of the U.S. president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as decision to cut U.S. funding to the Palestinians Authority for paying terrorists and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians Refugees (UNRWA). The Palestinians have already determined that the U.S. Peace Plan is ‘biased’ in favor of Israel, and that is why, they say, they cannot accept it.

Trump’s Peace Plan ‘a waste of time’

A senior Israeli minister said recently that US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited plan for peace with the Palestinians is “a waste of time. “I think that the gap between the Israelis and Palestinians is much too big to be bridged,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said at a conference organized by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

“I think personally it’s a waste of time,” she said when asked what she thought about the peace initiative Trump is expected to unveil in the weeks or months ahead. Shaked is part of the far-right Jewish Home party, a key member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. She and other members of her party openly oppose a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians have already vowed to block Trump’s peace plan and severed ties with his administration after his December decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and declare the city Israel’s capital. The Palestinians also see the city as the capital of their future state and international consensus has been that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.

Trump has also cut some $500 million in aid to the Palestinians, who accuse the White House of seeking to blackmail them into accepting a plan they view as blatantly biased in favor of Israel. The American president aide Jason Greenblatt said recently in aninterview with the Times of Israel news site that his plan would “be heavily focused on Israeli security needs” while remaining “fair to the Palestinians”.

While expressing her pessimism on the chances for making peace with the Palestinians for now, Justice minister Ayelet Shaked however said she would keep an open mind on the US plan. “Although I want peace like anyone else, I’m just more realistic, and I know that in the current future it is impossible,” she said, speaking in English. “But let’s wait and see what they (the US) will offer.”

*international political commentator and journalist for European Business Review and editor-in-chief of Kriek Media

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