The “peace process” began in Madrid 18 years ago, but peace still is not likely "by 2020 or by 2030.” according to a Russian expert for Arab studies who spoke at a Jordanian conference under the title, Middle East 2020: Is a Comprehensive Settlement Possible?"
Analyst Sergei Demidenko, of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis, poured cold water on the declarations of Western leaders who have been making non-stop efforts to revive what now is called the “diplomatic process.”
He said there has been no change in the same three issues, which have confounded world leaders trying to orchestrate an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. They are the status of Jerusalem, foreign Arabs claiming a home in Israel and Jewish development in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
“Any government that will come into power either in the Palestinian National Authority or in Israel would never agree to cede Jerusalem or to divide it even under threat of being ousted,” the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis expert told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Demidenko’s view that the current political stalemate does not allow for any negotiations flies in the face of continued optimism in the Western world as well as in Russia that they can improve on the efforts of their predecessors.
Russia has tried to push itself into the forefront by planning to host another Middle East conference, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said two months ago that it is not feasible without a resumption of talks between the PA and Israel.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, under world pressure and a threat of an international boycott of Israel, reluctantly agreed to meet Yasser Arafat in Madrid. Two years after the debate, President Bill Clinton arranged the signing of the Oslo Accords between Arafat and former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin on the White House Lawn.
Further negotiations towards the Arab aim of establishing the PA as an independent state literally blew up with suicide bombings in the 1990s, followed by a nine-year rocket barrage that subsided but still continues at a reduced rate after last year’s Operation Cast Lead campaign against Gaza terrorists.
Despite Demidenko’s view of the Middle East scene, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov told the conference, "We have not exhausted the full potential of the Quartet," comprised of Russia, the European Union, the United Nations and the United States.
However, Russia is not about to try to take the spotlight completely away from the United States, said another analyst, Gumer Isayev, head of the St. Petersburg Center for the Study of the Modern Middle East. He pointed out that despite hostility to the United States by the Arab world, it is dependent on American trade and assistance.