Seminar on “the new US Administration and prospects for advancing the Middle East Peace Process”
On April 7, 2021, ECFA organized a seminar entitled “the new U.S. Administration and prospects for advancing the Middle East Peace Process“, opened by ambassadors, Dr. Mounir Zahran, ECFA Chairman, and Dr. Ezzat Saad, ECFA Director. Speakers in this seminar were: Ambassadors, Dr. Mohamed Badr El-Din Zayed, Hazem Khairat, and Barakat Al-Farra, as well as Major General Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim Al-Dewairy, and Prof. Dr. Mohamed Kamal. It was also attended by a number of ambassadors and academics concerned with U.S. affairs and regional issues.
The symposium tackled the following five axes: First: the new U.S. administration and the Palestinian cause. Second: What the Palestinian side should do to activate the peaceful track. Third: The Israeli position and possible post-elections scenarios in March 2021. Fourth: The Arab position and the impact of the Israeli-Arab normalization treaties on this file. Finally: To which extent can international efforts contribute to advancing the file?
In this context, the participants indicated that the internal issues that the American street is witnessing, such as confronting the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic and addressing the division in U.S. society between moderates and extremist populists, which are top priorities for the new administration, followed by focusing attention on the major rival powers, namely China and Russia, then the issues of Latin America, and the Middle East. As for the position of the Palestinian cause in the new administration, the latter views the question in the context of two legacies left by the past Trump administration; The first: the deal of the century, and the second: the Abraham Accords between Arab countries and Israel.
It is clear that the talk about the deal of the century has ended under the Biden administration, to get back instead to the talk about the two-state solution, as well as recognizing the West Bank as an occupied region, and that the Israeli settlement operations in it are illegitimate, while returning aid to the Palestinians, despite the new administration’s adherence to some of the deal’s decisions, such as recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
On the other hand, the new administration will work to complete the normalization agreements between Israel and the Arab countries wishing to do so, without putting pressure on the latter to pursue that path. In this context, it is likely that the new U.S. administration will not take any unilateral initiative on the peace process, nor will it be pushed to symbolic engagement in a multilateral framework on this unless China attempts to play a role in this regard.