News / Middle East

Negotiators to Meet on Snagged Mideast Peace Talks

Negotiators to Meet on Snagged Mideast Peace Talksi
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.

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.”

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.”

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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs