News / Middle East

    Israelis, Palestinians Pessimistic About Peace Talks

    Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (L-R) and Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni speak at a news conference at the end of talks at the State Department in Washington, July 30, 2013. I
    Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (L-R) and Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni speak at a news conference at the end of talks at the State Department in Washington, July 30, 2013. I
    Robert Berger
    As Israeli and Palestinian chief negotiators held a second day of peace talks in Washington, pessimism prevailed back home.
     
    Israelis and Palestinians are deeply skeptical about the talks and are watching events unfold with a negative sense of déjà vu.
     
    The on-again, off-again talks have spanned 20 years, with failures, disappointments and cycles of violence. A final peace agreement on a Palestinian state remains elusive and there is rampant distrust. 
     
    On the streets of Jewish West Jerusalem, Rachel Beckerman was upset that Israel plans to release 104 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture, including those involved in deadly terrorist attacks. 
     
    “The idea of doing concessions or gestures for peace, I think is a mistake because those gestures are interpreted as weakness and it basically makes our negotiating more difficult,” she said.
     
    Another Israeli, Pesach Schindler, recalled Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Two years later, the Palestinian militant group Hamas took over and since then, thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel. He said the Israeli government led people astray with promises of peace. 
     
    “Land for peace hasn’t worked. We gave back the Gaza Strip and that blew up in their face,” noted Schindler. 
     
    In the Arab bazaar, in Jerusalem’s walled Old City that borders West Jerusalem, Palestinians too were pessimistic.
     
    The market was decked out with flashing lights and festive music as Palestinians celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
     
    The mood was more somber when it comes to the peace process. Shopkeeper Adel Jafari said Israel’s hardline Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is incapable of making concessions for peace.
     
    “The Israelis they are ruled by very extreme right wing. For them to give anything, it’s really, really hard," he said.
     
    Another Palestinian merchant, Saed Yagmur, said there is plenty of blame to go around. 
     
    “I don’t hope anything because I think it’s both of us: We and the Israelis are not ready for peace,”  Yagmur said.
     
    Despite the atmosphere of doubt, many people on both sides concede that it is better to talk than to fight. 
     

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora