News / Middle East

Former US Officials Assess Mideast Peace Prospects

TEXT SIZE - +

The United States and Jordan have recently pledged to cooperate in an effort to revive the Middle East peace process.

Negotiations for a lasting peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled for more than a year.

Like many diplomats, John Bolton, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, takes a dim view of Mideast peace prospects.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton in New York (2011 file photo)
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton in New York (2011 file photo)

“Well I think it’s in the ditch and I don’t know what’s going to get it out anytime soon,” Bolton said.

The key issues facing both sides are the geographic outlines of a new Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees and the construction of new Jewish settlements in occupied territories.

Peace talks ground to a halt in September 2010 when Israel resumed the construction of settlements after a moratorium expired. Palestinian officials say they will not resume talks until settlement building is stopped. Israel refuses to freeze settlements and is calling for talks without preconditions.

Jordan’s King Abdullah has hosted low-level discussions between Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to get full negotiations under way. Following a meeting where he briefed U.S. President Barack Obama on the talks [Jan. 17th], the king said these talks are in the very early stages.

But former Secretary of Defense William Cohen says time is running out for an agreement.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Sebastian Cohen (2008 file photo)
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Sebastian Cohen (2008 file photo)

“I don’t think time is on anyone’s side on this. I think the Israelis need to have an agreement with the Palestinians," he said.  I think the Palestinians should do whatever they can to have a united front as such and one that recognizes Israel’s right to security."

"And I think Israel has to recognize the Palestinians have a right to sovereignty, dignity, economic opportunity," Cohen added. "And those goals aren’t going to be diminished over time - they are going to increase in terms of the numbers of people and the demand to share in a future filled with prosperity. So at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any movement at all.”

Experts say one stumbling block to the peace process is the division in Palestinian leadership between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The West Bank is run by Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority while the Gaza Strip is under the control of the militant organization Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.

Former Ambassador Bolton says that Palestinian split makes it difficult for leadership to emerge.

“The biggest problem, at this point, is that there is not a sufficiently strong interlocutor on the Palestinian side who can make the very hard political decisions that they would have to make and then carry through on some of these difficult commitments," he said. "The Israelis will have to do the same thing, but they have a functioning government. The Palestinians, unfortunately, don’t have that. And it doesn’t seem to be a situation that’s improving.”

Many experts, including former National Security Adviser General Brent Scowcroft, say Israel and the Palestinians cannot reach an agreement by themselves.

Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft on Capitol Hill in Washington (2007 File photo)
Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft on Capitol Hill in Washington (2007 File photo)

“It has been amply showed since 1948 [creation of Israel], the two sides are never going to be so evenly balanced that they can come to a solution by themselves," Scowcroft said. "There are so many internal dissident movements inside both Israel and the Palestinian side that it would take a firm position by the United States and Europe to resolve it. A two-state solution is in the interest of both parties, but it’s just too hard for them, domestically, to do by themselves.”

Bolton repeats a statement made by former Secretary of State James Baker, though, that peace depends on the participants.

“The United States can’t want peace more than the parties themselves,” Bolton said.

Looking ahead, neither Scowcroft, Bolton nor Cohen believes there will be any significant progress this year in the Middle East peace process because it is a presidential election year in the United States and both sides want to see what Washington will have to offer next.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid