There's No Storm in Sight But Clouds Loom for Israel as Peace Talks Collapse

Short Term Gain May Mask Huge Trouble on Horizon

Salad Days? A Palestinian vendor hawks cotton candy. Will the relative calm on both sides of the Green Line persist now that the peace talks are dead.
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Salad Days? A Palestinian vendor hawks cotton candy. Will the relative calm on both sides of the Green Line persist now that the peace talks are dead.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published April 30, 2014, issue of May 09, 2014.
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With even the illusion of a peace process now dead, experts’ predictions of what will fill the vacuum range from a new intifada to continued peace and prosperity for Israel.

Israel is, in other words, now on untested ground, and what the future holds is anyone’s guess.

Still, some of those guessing about the new situation are known for thinking about Israel’s future deeply and seriously.

And among those trying to peer around the corner, few see the situation in more bleak terms than the Knesset faction chairman of Israel’s second-largest party.

“Our sliding down the slippery slope of international illegitimacy will be faster and will become a real danger to our economy, science and culture,” Ofer Shelah of the Yesh Atid party told the Forward. The developments to come, he predicted, would affect “every facet of Israeli life.”

Speaking April 21, two days before Israel actually suspended negotiations, Shelah said that the collapse of talks would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority that currently governs most Palestinian residents in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

“Once there’s no process and the situation on the ground deteriorates, the money will not be there, the authority to govern will not be there — it will crumble and crumble fast,” he said. That, in turn, “will bring us back to being actual day-to-day rulers of close to 2 million Palestinians, which is harmful to everything — to our economy, to our consciousness, to our morality, to everything.”

Moshe Maoz, a well-known Hebrew University Middle East scholar, broadly agreed, terming the outlook “very grim.” “In a worst-case scenario, there could be a third intifada,” he said. And if there is one, he added, “it could be the end of the Palestinian Authority.”

The breakdown in the peace process “is going to influence international organizations and bankers, et cetera,” Maoz said. “There were expectations, and they will blame Israel for a collapse.”

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