As you realize, another Israeli-Arab peace process has begun with scant hope that it will actually succeed. Given the past results of such peace negotiations, the most likely answer to the title of this post is “no.” I agree with that assessment. However, for several reasons, I think that this process has a greater chance of possibly succeeding.
To begin with, the Israelis have made a major gesture of good intentions to the Palestinians by conducting a staged release of 104 Palestinian and perhaps other Arab prisoners who pose a risk to Israeli security or they would not be in prison (first link). Israel is taking a significant risk for peace in this action and this indicates to me that the Israelis would actually like this process to succeed. In turn, Qatar, acting as a spokesman for the Arab League, has also made a concession to the Israelis. The Arab League has softened its position by agreeing that the major Israeli settlements not on the Israeli side of the original “Green Line” could stay in Israeli control in exchange for some minor territorial switches between the Israelis and Palestinians (second link). This major change in stance indicates that the entire Arab League would like to see this peace negotiations work as well. The Arab League statement also offers a major benefit to Israel if the peace negotiations succeed. The Arab League has offered normalization of relationships with 22 Arab nations and 35 other Islamic nations if the process succeeds (third link). That would be a total of 55 Islamic nations reconciling with Israel if this process succeeds.
Such an outcome gives the Israelis a major motivation to have this process succeed. Israel cannot stay on a war footing forever and it needs to limit the number of its enemies. No one can fight on all fronts in a war when you are heavily outnumbered. Given the Israeli nuclear weaponry and its resolve to survive, I believe the Israelis would win an all-out war, but I’m certain that the Israelis want no such war. Also, the Arabs are under a great pressure to no longer have the Israelis as a potential enemy. The specter of Shiite Iran’s growing militarism is hovering over the Israeli-Palestinian peace process like a sword of Damocles. Iran and its regional allies are a powerful and growing threat to both the Sunni Moslem Arab nations and to Israel. The stronger Iran’s threat becomes to both parties, the greater is the incentive for Israel and the Arab Sunni nations to make peace with each other. Frankly, the Islamic Sunni nations badly need the Israelis as a regional ally against the rising threat posed by an expansionist Shiite Iran. This gives the Arab nations a major incentive to make peace with Israel at this time.
There is another reason why Israel is under greater pressure to reach a successful outcome to this peace negotiation. In the past, the Israelis always had an “ace-in-the-hole”—the powerful support of the US government and its military might. However, given Obama’s anti-Israeli attitude and his well-documented personal animus toward Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israelis cannot regard the USA as a reliable ally as long as Obama is president. Ironically, it is Obama’s lack of reliability that gives the Israelis a greater incentive to make peace with the Islamic nations.
There are a lot of obstacles against this peace process working and some are detailed in the second link. However, lets think “outside the box” in visualizing what could cause a successful outcome to this peace negotiation. Hamas (in Gaza) is so radicalized that I do not see them participating in any settlement. However, if the Israelis offer the Palestinians real autonomy in the old West Bank region and yield a portion of East Jerusalem for a Palestinian capital in “Al Quds,” there will be immense pressure on the Abbas regime to accept the offer. What could possibly motivate the Israelis to make such concessions? If the Arabs agree that the Israelis will be able to station forces on the Jordan River and if the Palestinians are not allowed to be an armed state, but be “policed” by a joint Jordanian-Saudi force, the Israelis would have some things they need. Also, the Palestinians are in no condition to be an independent nation yet and, privately, I doubt the Arab nations want an armed Palestinian nation that could draw many other Arab nations into an unwanted war with the Israelis. However, there is one thing which could cement the deal.
Netanyahu would have a revolt within the religious parties of his governing coalition if he makes the concessions outlined above and his governing coalition would fall apart, unless…the Arabs agree to allow the Israelis to build a Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. That could make many things possible within the Israeli governing coalition.
If a settlement occurred and a genuine peace resulted between Israel and 57 Islamic nations, it would allow the Israelis to focus all their military attention on the threat from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria. If a peace settlement resulted not only in a reluctant peace, but an actual alliance between the Sunni Moslem nations and the Israelis against Iran and its allies, it would offer a huge advantage to the Sunni Islamic nations in their rivalry with the Shiite governments in Iran and Iraq.
A number of biblical prophecies refer to the likelihood or reality of a Jewish Temple, with a “Holy Place” and where evening and morning sacrifices are made, in Jerusalem in the latter days (Daniel 11:31, Daniel 12:11, Matthew 24:15). Either a great war or a major peace agreement would seem to be needed to make a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem a reality. I’m not predicting a major peace agreement in this current negotiation as the odds against it are substantial. However, there are new factors which indicate that both the Islamic nations and the Israelis need and want a real agreement to occur. This needs to be watched carefully.
The key negotiations between the Israelis and key Arab nations will likely occur when John Kerry and the Americans are not present. Given that Obama is not a reliable ally to the Israelis and given the disastrous outcome of the Obama-supported “Arab Spring” disasters in Islamic nations, neither the Arabs nor the Israelis are likely to trust Obama much in this process.