There is a chance Obama could have last Mideast peace push, but Netanyahu remains an obstacle — expert (The Jordan Times)

By Saeb Rawashdeh – Aug 16,2015 – Last updated at Aug 16,2015

AMMAN — US President Barack Obama might follow suit of his predecessors and make a last-minute push of the Middle East peace process, although the incumbent Israeli government seems uninterested in peace with Palestinians, an international expert on the Middle East said.

“There could be a last push from Obama to try and tackle the issue more directly,” said Massimo Ramaioli, an instructor at US-based Syracuse University, and an international lecturer.

He recalled previous attempts such as Clinton’s Camp David in 2000, and George W. Bush’s Annapolis of 2007.

However, the ongoing conflict and the “stagnant” US foreign policy have fuelled Ramaioli’s “scepticism” on the issue. The instructor in Middle Eastern politics, Ramaioli said the re-election of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu was driven by “the security concerns of Israel — true or fabricated”, adding that Netanyahu received “a boost” by the collapse of some states in the region as a result of the so-called Arab Spring, he explained.

The Iran deal, Ramaioli said, was a crucial step towards securing Netanyahu’s position for another term. He recalled Netanyahu’s “flabbergasting” speech to the US Congress being wholly focused on “the threat to regional stability, world peace and, more than anything, Israeli security [if not outright survival] represented by a potentially nuclear Iran.”

Whilst the Israeli prime minister was cornered by the coalition of the previous government, the success of the Likud leader was won by “insisting once more – and ever more aggressively – on the refrains that have made him prime minister: the security of Israel and the impossibility to engage in any dialogue with the Palestinians”, added Ramaioli, who was interviewed by The Jordan Times during a recent visit to Amman.

The pundit said that the “implications for the peace process have been ominous to the extent that we believe that they are actually going on and that Netanyahu would be willing to engage in it. I am very sceptical about both propositions.”

At any rate,” he added, “the Iranian ‘nuclear threat’, or its role in supporting Hizbollah or Hamas, has been enough for the current Israeli executive to refrain from any meaningful talk with the Palestinian authorities.”

On the US role, he said: “We should come to think that the US is perhaps losing any real capacity to broker a deal between the two parties,” recalling that the US has “never been an honest and impartial broker.”

Furthermore, re-opening negotiations would only occur by “twisting the arm of the Israelis”, which, Ramaioli said, “is not happening any time soon”.

Ramaioli is also “sceptical” that the upcoming presidential elections will bring change to the US foreign policy: “a Republican president — certainly the favoured option for the Likud and even more so for Netanyahu — is out of question as of now. But Hillary Clinton is as pro-Israel… as a Democrat can be,” Ramaioli explained.

Ramaioli urged the American public opinion to think outside the box of a two-state solution.

“To me, the two-state solution is an unjust solution. Which brings us to the South African scenario, which is often compared to Israel-Palestine,” stressed the scholar, who believes the one-state scenario is a better option.

A two-state solution is “simply not feasible anymore given the entrenchment of the settlements in the West Bank.” he said.

“However I am pessimistic and I don’t think we are going to witness something resembling the South African case any time soon,” Ramaioli said.