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Middle East Peace: The Role of the US in Advancing Peace Talks

A process through which countries in the Middle East may reach peace with their neighboring countries

Middle East Peace: The Role of the US in Advancing Peace Talks

US President Joe Biden completed his first diplomatic visit to the Middle East in 2022. This visit’s main goal was to affirm the role of US leadership with traditional leaders and allies within the Middle East. The President’s meeting with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was especially needed to reset US and Palestinian relations after the Trump administration cut off all regional assistance.

Biden’s approach to the Middle East crisis is significantly more diplomatic. One could almost hear the sighs of relief as the President quite comfortably dealt with both sides. In strong contrast to his predecessor, Biden’s statements called on his conviction as a Zionist and his Irish heritage. He reiterated that you don’t need to be Jewish to be a Zionist and stated that his Irish background was not inherently much, unlike the Palestinian people’s struggle against oppression. Some may agree that that was a stroke of political genius.

Many deduce that this latest visit wasn’t to resolve short-term issues but rather to address a much larger long-term plan. The main discussions included the price and supply of oil, issues relating to human rights, and negotiations to maintain the ceasefire in Yemen. So was it worth it, and did it accomplish anything real? Some analysts would argue that Saudi Arabia and Israel’s goals were met. It’s still unclear what the US got or will get from the 2022 trip.

We’re all aware of the US’s role in the late 20th century, but not many are aware that the US has been involved in peace talks and interventions for over 70 years.

The 1950s

US peace proposals started over 70 years ago when London and Washington jointly worked on Operation Alpha. This plan involved Israel giving up parts of the Negev and accepting Palestinian refugees. Israel would receive an end to the Arab boycott and recognition. This plan failed as the Israeli President David Ben-Gurion wasn’t prepared to give up parts of the Negev and the Arabs weren’t prepared to accept Israel as a state.

1969 to 1979

The 1969 Rogers Plan, in contrast to the secretive Operation Alpha plan, was made very public when the Secretary of State William Rogers (of the Nixon administration) proposed that Israel withdraw from Egyptian territories captured during the Six-day War in 1967. Egypt would agree to be non-hostile and give Israel access to the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Eilat.

This plan was also a failure as the President of Egypt (Gamal Abdel Nasser) rejected the plan as being biased. In addition, the Israeli President (Golda Meir) claimed the plan was unbalanced as Israel would’ve been expected to withdraw entirely and wouldn’t receive total peace. In 1970, the Rogers Plan was modified and accepted, which focused more on an Egypt-Israel ceasefire that would end the War of Attrition (a military strategy involving hostile efforts to wear the enemy down to collapse).

After the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the ‘shuttle diplomacy’ of Henry Kissinger led to the disengagement agreements between Egypt and Israel in January 1974 and Israel and Syria in May 1974. Kissinger produced the Senai II Egypt-Israel interim agreement in September 1975. This involved the IDF pulling back from Egypt and the Suez Canal, including demilitarizing these areas and evacuating territories.

The surprise diplomatic initiative of Egypt in 1977 had everyone hopeful when President Mohammad Sadat landed at Ben-Gurion Airport to initiate peace talks. President Carter also proved indispensable in the 1978 Camp David Accords and the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace negotiations and treaty.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/07/18/biden-middle-east-saudi-achieved-worth/

https://www.rand.org/blog/2022/08/middle-east-peace-the-biden-administrations-approach.html

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