News / Middle East

    Scholar: Chances of Mideast Peace 'Slim' for Now

    Aaron David Miller, Public Policy Scholar at Washington DC's Woodrow Wilson Center, says Mideast leaders not ready to make choices.

    US Mideast envoy George Mitchell leaves following his meeting about Mideast peace talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, not pictured, in Cairo, Egypt, Oct 3, 2010
    US Mideast envoy George Mitchell leaves following his meeting about Mideast peace talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, not pictured, in Cairo, Egypt, Oct 3, 2010

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Full interview with Aaron David Miller, Woodrow Wilson Center for Public Policy

    Cecily Hilleary

    The failure of the latest round of Middle East talks has left politicians and analysts grappling over whether a peace agreement achievable in the near future.  U.S. negotiator George Mitchell met separately with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this past week, saying the US remained committed to pursuing substantive talks.

    Aaron David Miller, Public Policy Scholar at the Washington D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Public Policy, is a former State Department analyst and negotiator and the author of The Much Too Promised Land:  America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace.  He told VOA reporter Cecily Hilleary that no matter what strategy the U.S. will attempt in coming months, the chances of "quick and easy progress" remain slim.

    Aaron David Miller
    Aaron David Miller

    Miller:  You have two basic problems.  The first is an ownership problem.  Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian leadership owns their own process.  And until they do, until they are driven by prospects of pain and/or gain, to a situation where on the core issues - Jerusalem, borders, security and refugees - they’re prepared to make the kinds of decisions, choices and concessions, it strikes me that we’re going to be wheel-spinning.

    The second problem is the absence or lack of American credibility.  I mean, these days, over the last several years, it seems that everybody says “no” to the United States without much cost and without much consequence, and a mediator really - an effective mediator - needs “street credibility,” needs the respect and even the fear, at some point, of the powers with which it deals.

    So I think that this is going to be a very long “movie.”  I think that the [U.S.] administration’s approach is worth the effort right now, which is to conduct parallel talks on these big issues to see where the gaps are, what each side may be willing to do, and then consider if the gaps can be bridged.  That’s our assessment.  But all of that, it strikes me, is going to be very, very hard.

    Houses under construction are seen in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, 08 Dec 2010
    Houses under construction are seen in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, 08 Dec 2010

    And in the meantime, the Israelis will continue to pursue their settlement policies, and the Palestinians are involved in another major distraction, which is the effort to create the basis for what might be – although it’s highly inadvisable - a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

    Hilleary:  Let me jump back.  You say that the United States isn’t credible, that it needs to be tough and inspire fear.   What could it have done in this latest round of talks that it did not do?

    Miller: Well, let’s first of all determine what it shouldn’t have done.  It shouldn’t have identified a goal - a comprehensive freeze on settlements, including Jerusalem - that no Israeli government could ever have accepted.   And then when it became quite clear that no Israeli government was going to accept it, then either threaten and/or try to bribe the Israelis into delivering a freeze.  The whole policy of focusing on a settlement freeze is doomed.

    Hilleary: From the Palestinian perspective, though, that was the condition for resuming direct talks.

    Miller: That’s true, but direct talks, frankly, are of limited utility.  If you went back and looked at the record of American mediation over the last 40 years, what you’d find is that our successes - and there have only been three:  Kissinger’s disengagement diplomacy in the '70s, Jimmy Carter’s Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Jim Baker’s efforts to put together a Madrid Peace Conference - these all came as a consequence not of direct negotiations, but of U.S. mediation - indirect talks.

    So, the issue is not direct or indirect.  The issue is whether or not the parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, are prepared to make the kinds of choices that narrow the gaps sufficiently on the four core issues, which would allow a determined and smart American mediator to bridge those gaps.

    And the answer to the first question so far, after 20 months, is “No, they’re not.”

    The answer to the second question on the issue of U.S. mediation is a question mark.

    But given the performance over the course of the last 20 months, a case can be made that the Americans aren’t up to it.

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

    You May Like

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.