ISTANBUL – In 2016, conflicts in the Middle East proliferated far beyond the Israel-Palestine issue that had dominated regional politics for so long. In 2017, four key countries – Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen – are tearing themselves apart in civil wars.
These conflicts are directly or indirectly affecting the rest of the world, by exporting terrorism and refugees – products that are contributing to resurgent populism and authoritarianism in the West, from which almost no country has been spared. In the coming year, the world will find itself under more pressure than ever to start resolving the Middle East’s conflicts and their dangerous spillover effects.
For starters, reviving the Israel-Palestine peace process must be a high priority. Although the conflict has not garnered as much attention in recent years as it once did, it is no less important to bring the occupation of Palestinian territories – and the attendant humanitarian crisis – to an end.
An agreed settlement – based on clear terms, and backed by the United Nations, the European Union, and the rest of the international community – would ensure Israel’s security and normalize its relations within the region, particularly with its Arab neighbors. This would create opportunities for regional and global cooperation, while restoring much-needed credibility to the international system itself.