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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora