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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid