South America: Meddling in Peace Process is Not the Solution


In announcing that they would recognize a Palestinian state along 1967 borders, the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay risk undermining a very delicate peace process. Only Israeli and Palestinian representatives can create a two-state solution.

This premature recognition of a state that doesn’t yet exist, that has no borders, no infrastructure, and no undisputed leadership, prejudges the outcome of tough negotiations. The fact that this “recognition” comes during a delicate time—the Palestinians walked away from talks more than two months ago— in the peace talks is irresponsible. It may score political points, and elevate these three nations on the global stage in the short term, but the long-term harm is indisputable.

My organization has implored Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Uruguayan President José Mujica to rescind this premature and baseless recognition. Such recognition by these nations will help create deeper divisions in the peace process as the primary players are pushed aside.

By unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state, these nations are effectively telling the Palestinian side not to negotiate. The Palestinians are given the impression that any difficult subject will be decided by the international community. What incentive do the Palestinians have to come to the table if they are lead to believe they will be handed a state. This falsely legitimizes the rejectionism and intransigence of the Palestinian community, making stalemate more likely than peace. The two-month gap in peace talks could drag on indefinitely as the Palestinians wait for the heavy lifting to be done for them.

Indeed, to avoid this, past peace agreements prevent unilateral decisions that would circumvent the entire peace negotiating process.

The Oslo Accords of 1993 were a breakthrough in direct negotiations. Oslo marked the first face-to-face peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. All peace talks since then have relied on the framework set up at that time, and all subsequent conversations have been built upon the premise of direct talks. The Palestinian National Authority, now the main body Israel deals with, was created out of Oslo.

Oslo deliberately did not decide on borders, and other complicated matters. These permanent, crucial, and most difficult issues were left for future negotiations, between the parties. For Latin American leaders to bypass that milestone agreement—an agreement that has provided the nuts and bolts for all other conversations in the last 17 years— is the height of hubris.

Imposing a Palestinian state outside of a negotiated deal could serve to imperil Israel’s security. The long history of Palestinian terror attacks on Israel serve as indisputable evidence of why there needs to be direct talks, with specific guarantees about Israel’s safety.

Resolving the security issue, and all the others, is first and foremost the domain of the primary parties.

The interference by Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay does not help the peace process. In fact, it probably sets it back.

At the end of the day, the tough decisions need to be made by the Israelis and the Palestinians. This attempted end-run undermines a peace process that is already hanging by a thread. What we don’t need are outside parties ready with a knife.

Daniel S. Mariaschin is Executive Vice President of B’nai B’rith International