News / Middle East

Former US Officials Assess Mideast Peace Prospects

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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs