Why did the Middle East peace negotiations fail?

Possible hypothesis that could explain why Middle East peace negotiations fail:

  • One party to the conflict has a weak institutionalized system and does not have a balanced representation in terms of popular legitimization, which is the case of Palestina and some of its surrounded countries.
  • Peace commitment or belligerent rhetoric depends on internal political motivations of the lead factions in relation to the balance of power within their community.
  • Internal factors: deep social inequalities and political incapacity within the Arab countries lead to elevate factions with extremist Islam component which stands with a clear anti-zionist position within the Arab countries and as a consequence, this situation boosts a nationalist ethnic right-wing component within Israel.
  • Zionism and the purpose of jews to demand an independent country for its people occupying others people territories. One of the main historical priorities of the government of Israel has been to force the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State independently of the claims from the people of the territories that they are occupying.
  • United States and their internal economic and politic powerful presence of jews need this conflict as an excuse to maintain army industries and the related economic activities active which move big public investments and favor Israeli lobbies.
Aed Abu Amro, a palestinian protester in Gaza – Photo: Mustafa Hassouna / Anadolu

When talking about why the negotiations in the Middle East have not been successful we must leave aside the origin of the conflict. In general terms, we could say that the hypothesis that we have reflected in point four «Zionism and the purpose of jews to demand an independent country for its people occupying others people territories», actually makes also reference to the main base of the problem. So, if we do not take into account that an independent Israel is the result of an agreement between Jews and European powers that apparently did not take into account the Palestinian people and the religious context of Middle East, we must focus on some of the causes that best explain why attempts at peace negotiations have been generally unsuccessful.

Many studies on the Peace Process of this conflict have focused on identifying the causes that might explain the failure of subsequent attempts to achieve peace in the region. In my opinion, the hypothesis that has more strength among all those that I have exposed above would be the one that makes reference to the internal socio-economic and political issues of each part of the conflict. Undoubtedly, deep social inequalities and political incapacity within the Arab countries lead to elevate extremist Islam and nationalist factions which stands with a clear anti-zionist position. Following the creation of Israel and the successive wars that have taken place in a short-term, numerous radical groups have appeared in the political field. Most of these groups contain a combination of Islamist ideology with a strong national component and a political struggle for the liberalization of Palestine from the occupation of Israel in the region as a response to a wide popular demand. Therefore, the clash between two mutually exclusive and powerful forms of nationalism, the Zionism and the Palestinian that compete to create an autonomous state in the same territory, permanently feedback the conflict.

Military wing of Hamas

To better understand the factors that have triggered the continuously fail of peace negotiations in the region, we should turn to the internal factors that have generated a more belligerent relationship between the parties. Mainly, the increase of the reactionary right in Israel, currently led by Netanhayu, corresponds to a demand of the Israeli people to powerfully face the continued threats from the political and religious groups that have great popular power in the countries surrounding area of Israel. We can say that, as Wendy Pearlman maintains:

actors choose to negotiate or spoil the peace based on the expected utility of each strategy for improving their position in an internal balance of power (Pearlman, 2009).

According to this, we can understand the progressive increase of extreme right positions in Israel as well as the disproportionate responses to Palestinian attacks that power the processes of radicalization and increase the conflict between the parties.

Fawzi al-Junaidi, a 16 years old Palestinian arrested by Israeli military forces – Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun

We should probably focus on explaining the reasons why extremist religious groups, both in Israel and in the Arab countries, have increased their presence and influence in the area. Israel, a country surrounded by countries with a large presence of political groups that want to end their presence in the area, responds with greater belligerence to the threat by continuously rejecting peace treaties. Israel has become more adamant in demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State. The proliferation of new settlements and the extreme control over the movements of people in Palestinian territories has become a major obstacle to the peace process. Palestinians have stated that the stopping constant abuse of Israeli troops and stopping colonial settlement constructions are preconditions for a way to achieve an start to peace negotiations.

Thus, we could say that in the Arab countries, a notable increase of the serious inequalities in a context of permanent war, the increase of the prices of the basic products due to the financial speculation and the introduction of neoliberal measures dictated by the IMF in the area, as well as weak institutions with internal conflicts, have deeply contributed to the fact that a large part of the Arab population in the area has been influenced by this hostile context. As a result, many anti-Israel and nationalist movements have been favored with the situation. It is the case of Hamas in Palestine which has a strong social support and stands with a territorial and nationalistic rhetoric and with an aim to liberate Palestine from the Israeli occupation: deteriorating economic conditions due in part to IMF measures and financial speculation, disappointment with the lack of progress in the UN negotiations and the proliferation of of Israeli settlements undoubtedly radicalized the Palestinian society, and in this social context, the guerrilla organizations and its Palestinian support gained strength.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director and Chairwoman of IMF – Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts

In light of the above, our hypothesis about the failure of peace processes in the Middle East focuses on the internal factors of the Arab countries and Israel. We should mainly focus on the importance of the internal factors and take into account that «internal pressures lead groups to act as peace makers or peace breakers depends not only on their policy preferences but also on their relative power in their national community» (Pearlman, 2009).

Political internal factors from both parties, such as social conflicts and the lack of strong institutions and leadership in the Arab countries and, principally, the awareness of the complex political situation ruled by a powerful ethnic factor in Israel, undoubtedly play an important role in the peace process.


  • Pearlman, W. (2009) Spoiling inside and out: Internal Political Contestation and the Middle East Peace Process – International Security, vol. 33, n. 2, pp. 79-109 – Available from: https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/10.1162/isec.2009.33.3.79

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