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What are the three circles of the peace process?

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What are the three circles of the peace process?

In the political process, it is possible to recognize three distinct circles of actors, each one of which is designed to support the other. The first innermost circle contains the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians; the second consists of the Arab world; while the third, the most external one, is that of the international community.

In the innermost circle of the Israeli and the Palestinians, which is the core of the conflict, the main obstacle to peace is the extremist elements that refuse to abandon the path of violence and commit to a peaceful resolution. On the other side stand the moderates, with whom it may be possible to reach an agreement if they are willing to compromise, but who also face a questionable ability to implement any agreement.

Israel's strategy is one of differentiation, i.e. dealing differently with Hamas-controlled Gaza than with the more moderate Palestinian Authority headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The new PA government has seemingly accepted the three conditions of the international community - the renunciation of violence, respect for previous agreements and acceptance of Israel's rights to exist - making it a potential partner for peace. Therefore, Israel is searching for tools for bolstering the moderate elements, which include financial assistance, security matters, the easing of living conditions and the creation of a "political horizon," a vision of what the Palestinians can achieve if they renounce violence and terrorism.

In the middle circle stands the Arab world, which now must take sides on this issue. However, it is no longer a matter of choosing between Israel and the Palestinians, rather the choice is between the side of the moderate Palestinian Authority and the side of extremist terrorist elements. The Arab world should support the pragmatic elements in the new Palestinian government and reject the extremist Hamas organization. If it does so, then the Arab world can play a significant role in the peace process.

In the past, there was a lack of involvement of constructive regional actors to assist in Israel-Palestinian peace-making. The Arab League proposal represents an opportunity for positive regional engagement.

The third circle - that of the international community - has already begun to play a positive role when the Quartet (the US, UN, Russia and the EU) adopted its three conditions for recognition: renunciation of violence, respect for previous agreements and acceptance of Israel's right to exist (Israel believes this should include Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state). It further showed its commitment by supporting the Annapolis meeting. The international community should choose to stay on the right side of the conflict between extremists and moderates, by maintaining the illegitimacy of Hamas, promoting relations with the new government formed by Mahmoud Abbas and also by giving the Palestinians an economic horizon, in addition to the political horizon that Israel can provide.

These texts are taken from material published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs. with additional comments and hyperlinked materials. They were apparently published in connection with the Annapolis peace conference of 2007, but they have extensive applicability beyond it. They explain fundamentals of Israeli policy as well as the meaning of Zionism and history of the conflict.

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Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs text is at Israel, the Conflict and Peace. Original text  is copyright by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Center.

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