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November 07, 2023

Why Israeli-Palestinian peace plans fail

S3 E8 30 MINS

The violence in the Middle East over the past month has rekindled a decades-old question that has long vexed professionals in the negotiating business: Why have third-party efforts to end the occupation of Palestinian territory and secure peace between Israel and Arab states failed time and time again?

To explore that question, we look back to one particular initiative 20 years ago known as the Roadmap, which seemed to hold particular promise. Sponsored by some of the world’s major players—the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union—the Roadmap sketched out a two-year path to peace that included independence for the Palestinians and security assurances for Israel.

But, like previous peace plans, this one was never implemented.

Peter Bartu was a political adviser to the UN in Jerusalem at the time and helped mediate between Israelis and Palestinians. The story he tells provides a forensic analysis of one particular plan that failed, but it also helps explain a broader history of diplomatic failures in the region.

One of Bartu’s revelations: British Prime Minister Tony Blair pushed the United States to accept the Roadmap in exchange for supporting America’s invasion of Iraq. But once the invasion got underway and troops became bogged down, the US lost interest in the Roadmap.

Bartu is now a senior research scholar at the University of California Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies and a lecturer in the school’s global studies program.

The Negotiators, hosted by Foreign Policy’s Jenn Williams, is a collaboration between Doha Debates and Foreign Policy.

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