The picture taken at the Washington summit right after the Madrid conference just says it all: Rabin and Arafat, the representatives of the two most antagonistic peoples in the modern world, shake hands under Clinton's blessing. Thus it may seem that the American presence and participation is the condition to successful peace negotiations between Arabs and Israelis. But the truth is that the interests at stake in this long-lasting conflict ?land and religion, to name but a few? are too linked to both Palestinian and Israeli communities to be solved by an external power. The very notion of promised land shows that this is first a matter of attachment to land, something quite irrational or at least not rational enough to be tamed by outside powers. The United States has proved to be able to elaborate solutions that seem workable, but actual implementation is very difficult because old interests and rivalries cast away signs of sensibility.
[...] Moreover, the fact that the United States had difficulties coping with the complexity of the issues and all the elements involved in the conflicts made American choices less consistent. For instance, the long-lasting belief that the Arab world was a unified one flawed America's understanding of the geopolitical issues and of the possible alliances in the Middle East. Also, the complicated international context that prevailed since the creation of Israel in 1947 (essentially conditions of the Cold War( had an important role. [...]
[...] But this is a success of as much as a limit to America's intervention between the two enemies: while the United States have a role in getting the Arabs and the Israelis together to negotiate, they can't implement the decisions taken at those times. Thus, many agreements (or at least many in comparison with traditional failures in peace talks( have been reached recently and yet not applied, such as the Hebron Accords between Arafat and Netanyahu. Therefore, the United States can't achieve peace just through their intervention: an external convincing power is not enough when it comes to stopping fight that have gone on for decades, the more so as the implications of this conflict carry a “national-political dimension and a religious dimension”. [...]
[...] But it's at waging peace that the United States has proved to be the best. In 1957, when Israel refused to withdraw its troops from Egyptian territories after the Suez Crisis, Eisenhower wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gourion, in which he counseled the Israelis to pull back, suggesting that this was a condition for further American support. The Israelis chose to listen to the United States and to evacuate the concerned areas. More significant events also determine America's role in forging peace in the Middle East. [...]
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