News / Middle East

Negotiators to Meet on Snagged Mideast Peace Talks

Negotiators to Meet on Snagged Mideast Peace Talksi
X
Al Pessin
April 02, 2014 5:25 PM
Both sides in the Middle East peace talks have now stepped back from commitments they made last year that got the process started. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been determined through many difficult visits to the region, has now canceled plans for another visit though some discussions among negotiators are continuing. VOA’s Al Pessin reports on the implications of the apparent breakdown in the talks.
VOA News
Sources close to the Israeli-Palestinian talks said Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. negotiators are set to meet late Wednesday in an attempt to put the peace talks back on track.
 
A senior State Department official says Washington is keeping up efforts despite "unhelpful steps" taken by both sides in the past day.

The official said Secretary of State John Kerry spoke separately Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The official also told reporters in Brussels that "neither party has given any indication they want to end the negotiations." The source did not say where the low-level talks will be held.

A surprise decision by Abbas on Tuesday to sign more than a dozen international conventions that could give Palestinians greater leverage against Israel left the United States searching for a way to keep the talks alive past an April 29 deadline.
 
Abbas' move came as Kerry's mediation efforts appeared in trouble. The secretary of state had set an April 29 deadline to reach basic outlines of an Israeli-Palestinian deal, but in recent weeks has pushed to extend the talks until the end of the year.
 
Israeli settlements

Palestinian officials have said Israel offered to show "restraint" on settlement building, including suspending government tenders for new construction, if talks are extended into 2015.
 
But the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said such offers are largely meaningless because thousands of settlement apartments have already been planned or are under construction.

The Palestinians seek a complete settlement freeze if negotiations are to be extended.
 
Israel Tuesday renewed a call for contractor bids on more than 700 homes in Gilo, an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem.
 
The Palestinians, along with much of the international community, view settlement construction as illegal and an obstacle to the creation of their hoped-for state. Israel has built dozens of settlements, now home to more than 550,000 Israelis, on occupied lands.
 
Opposition

Both Abbas and Netanyahu face opposition within their own cabinets to the U.S.-mediated talks and the concessions they could lead to.
 
After Abbas’ announcement Kerry, who has been dogged through many difficult trips to the region cancelled plans for another visit.
 
The moves put on public display the problems negotiators have been having behind closed doors for the past eight months, since Kerry initiated the talks.
 
“The prospects in the medium term, over 2014, of a final status agreement are pretty bleak,” said Jordan Perry, the principal Middle East analyst at the Maplecroft consulting firm in Oxford.
 
“Secretary Kerry has made clear in recent days…that he feels he’s gone really as far as he can in terms of being a mediator between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he said. “They now have to bridge this impasse.”
 
That view was reflected by a senior State Department official traveling with the secretary in Europe, who said “Ultimately it is up to the parties to take the necessary steps if they really want to go forward.”
 
Pessimism

But senior lecturer Amnon Aran of London’s City University doesn’t expect much.
 
“It seems to me that they have been engaging a bit in a charade, all of them,” he said.
 
Aran said the Israeli and Palestinian leaders have engaged in the talks so as not to anger Kerry and President Barack Obama, not out of a real willingness to deliver the difficult concessions needed to make peace.
 
Aran said this is a rare opportunity to make peace, with Israel motivated by the fast-rising Palestinian population and growing international anger at its decades-long occupation of the West Bank.
 
At the same time, Aran said the Palestinians are motivated by the desire of a new generation to be freed from the restraints of occupation and statelessness.
 
But Aran said while leaders on both sides understand the situation, they and their supporters, and especially their opponents, are not yet ready to act accordingly.
 
“It has not yet been internalized,” he said.  “Actually this episode is different in so far as if there is a collapse there may not be another chance, certainly not another chance under similar favorable circumstances.”
 
Determined

Kerry said he has not given up.
 
“[It is] completely premature to draw any judgments about this at this point in time,” he said.  “There are a lot of different possibilities in play.”
 
He sounded a hopeful note even after Tuesday’s Palestinian announcement and a change in travel plans.
 
Kerry has already twice reduced the goal he set last year – from reaching full agreement by the end of this month, to just reaching a framework accord, down to extending the deadline beyond this month.
 
Now if he resumes his shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah the goal will be simply to save the talks, analysts say, and the slim chance they have of achieving a peace that has eluded diplomats for decades.

You May Like

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: val mackenzie from: ontario, canada
April 02, 2014 7:43 PM
I think the UN should give the Palestinians all of the West Bank. Let them name it "Palestine" and declare Jerusalem a world heritage site.

by: Steve Shafit
April 02, 2014 1:48 PM
As long as the Palestinians require a settlement that would leave Israel vulnerable it ain't gonna happen... period

by: Amin from: Texas
April 02, 2014 1:25 PM
The talks have gone on long enough. I can hardly remember the names of all the cities where these peace talks were supposed to bring about a solution -- Oslo, Madrid, Geneva, Camp David, Annapolis, Taba, Sharam El Sheikh, and on and on. Israel is not committed to a two state solution. The US should just step aside and let the chips fall where they should at the UN.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs