While Syria burns and great powers run towards collision there, the French government has formally put forward a new initiative for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The three-step process (consult with both sides, convene an international support group, and convene an international summit to restart talks) is the brainchild of now former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Despite Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya, the French government feels that this ageing conflict is central to the problems of the region and needs to be resolved. In this view, disenfranchised and occupied Palestinians remain at the heart of Arab grievance.
The proposed initiative follows a familiar pattern, and indeed some would say it is outdated. So far, there is no reason to believe it will go anywhere because the political stars are not aligned today in its favor.
There is no real interest in it on the Israeli side, and Palestinian demands have not changed. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has said that Palestinians will “never” return to direct talks with Israel; they naturally seek the multilateralism that France is proposing.
US won’t give up primacy
The Americans are also not likely to give up their primacy in this process to the French. Instead, Washington promises future re-engagement, possibly, a la Clinton 2000, in the narrow and tricky window between the November elections and the January presidential inauguration.