News / Middle East

Egyptian Upheaval Threatens Efforts to Revive Mideast Peace Talks

Protesters hold up an effigy of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a a mock funeral at Tahrir Square in Cairo, February 7, 2011
Protesters hold up an effigy of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a a mock funeral at Tahrir Square in Cairo, February 7, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
  • Meredith Buel report on Mideast Peace Talks Feb 7, 2011

Meredith Buel

The political upheaval in Egypt and other Arab nations has created regional instability that threatens efforts to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.  But top officials of countries supporting peace negotiations are urging a resumption of the talks, saying they are important for stability and security in the Middle East.



Protecting Israel


Speaking recently before parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the near history of the Middle East, Islamic extremists have taken advantage of rapidly changing political climates to take control and establish anti-democratic regimes.

Mr. Netanyahu told lawmakers Islamic hardliners in Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip participated in elections to solidify power.   He said Israel must ensure this does not happen again.

Israel is particularly concerned about Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.  While officially banned and purposely taking a backseat in the current protests, it is considered the best organized opposition group in Egypt.

Target of rage

Demonstrators in Cairo have focused their anger on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, but some Israeli analysts are concerned that rage could one day be aimed at Israel.

"There is a concern that hostility towards the regime will be conflated with hostility towards Israel or the United States and that the fallout of political regime change will be a more aggressive, hostile and militant policies with respect to Israel.  That is the concern," explained Mark Heller, a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, launched in Washington last September, quickly broke down over Israel’s decision not to extend a moratorium on construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Palestinian concerns

Palestinians have refused to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze.

While uncertainty lies ahead, Palestinian political analyst Mahdi Abdul Hadi says Israeli officials need to understand the Arab uprising may change long-held assumptions about the peace process.

"The Israeli society today, they are living on a different planet," Abdul Hadi said. "They do not see the change.  They do not see the winds.  They do not understand the pulse of the street.  All what they are concerned [about] is their security.  For us, the Palestinians, we have come to see this is an historical moment."

Rapid change

One thing many Palestinians and Israelis are both concerned about is the unpredictability of any new Egyptian government if change comes too quickly.

"Judging on the Egyptian front is kind of difficult because we have many fears that Islamic [Muslim] Brotherhood organization would take over and have more influence, which will negatively affect the peace process in general and stability in the Palestinian Territories," said Dimitri Diliani, the Palestinian Fatah Party spokesman in East Jerusalem.

But the Israelis and Palestinians are not giving up on the peace process.

Hopeful measures

Last Friday, Israel announced a package of steps designed to encourage economic growth and develop infrastructure in the Palestinian territories.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, apparently referring to the protests rocking Egypt, said the offers where designed to enhance stability by improving the Palestinians quality of life.

The proposals were offered the day before a meeting of high-level officials from countries belonging to the Middle East Quartet, consisting of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.

Mr. Netanyahu unveiled the offer alongside the Quartet’s special envoy, former British prime minister Tony Blair.

"I think we can work together with you and the Palestinians to have concrete developments in the field," Netanyahu said.  "At the same time I think we need to work with the United States and the international community to find a route that will give us a horizon to a historic peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians - two states for two peoples."

Palestinians rejected the Israeli proposals, calling for all parties to recognize a Palestinian state.

Resumption encouraged

A Quartet statement noted the dramatic events in Egypt, saying the group considered the implications of the uprising for Arab-Israeli peace.

Mr. Blair said even against the backdrop of events in the region, resuming peace negotiations is still possible.

"Even though obviously there have been difficulties in the process, which we all know about, I think there is still a huge amount of determination and good will to try to make sure we reach a solution and a historic peace," Blair said.

The Quartet statement said further delay in the resumption of negotiations is detrimental to prospects for regional peace and security.

Analyst Mark Heller predicts uncertainty will prevail, at least in the short run.

"The question, of course, that preoccupies everyone, is how is all this is going to turn out and unfortunately none of us is really endowed with the gift of prophesy," he said.

Analysts say the peace process is likely to be on hold for the immediate future, as both sides deal with the ramifications of the tumultuous events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Mideast Peace Timeline

 

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs