Since the beginning of the Oslo process in the early 1990s, successive American presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have tried and failed to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Although there are many reasons for this failure, one contributing factor is the perception that the United States is not an “honest broker.”

A comprehensive peace agreement depends on both the Israelis and the Palestinians making significant, emotionally painful compromises over thorny issues such as the future of Jerusalem, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian refugees and the demarcation of borders. Moreover, for a peace agreement to stick, these compromises cannot be completely one-sided, with the Palestinians, for instance, capitulating to all of Israel's demands.

Since Israel is by far the stronger party in the conflict, it is highly unlikely that it will meet the Palestinians half way without external pressure. This is where the United States comes in. If an American president acts as a neutral mediator in peace talks, coaxing Israel along when necessary, then he can in effect level the playing field and achieve a more equitable, long-lasting agreement.

Unfortunately, U.S. administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have not been honest brokers. Instead they have been “Israel's lawyer. For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, have acted as Israel's attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations.

How can the United States claim to sponsor a peace process when it has decided in advance that it will back one side over the other? There are many reasons for America’s failure to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians but the most fundamental one is that it is a dishonest broker. To be clear: the Palestinians and their supporters are not asking for the United States to attack or even abandon the Jewish state. What they want is fairness, not favors.

There will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together. You cannot make peace in the Middle East without an honest broker, and the United States is not an honest broker. The history of US policy on the Middle East is a long and shameful history of bias, partiality and favoritism; of putting Israeli interests ahead of Palestinian rights. Previous Mideast envoys played the “peace process” game; they made the right noises about “two states for two peoples” and publicly suggested compromises on both sides while privately coordinating their “peace proposals” with Tel Aviv and providing diplomatic cover for Israeli expansionism

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