News / Middle East

Stalemate Marks Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process in 2011

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, shakes hands with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (file photo).
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, shakes hands with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (file photo).
Scott Bobb

2011 was a year of stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. International mediators tried to revive direct peace talks amid political uncertainties caused by rifts in the Palestinian leadership and popular uprisings in several Arab nations.

The Palestinian Authority, frustrated over the stalled peace talks, applied for full membership in the United Nations. Its case is pending, though it faces stiff U.S. opposition.

But the Palestinians successfully gained admission to the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO, angering Israel and the United States.

Israel took steps to build more housing in areas captured during the 1967 Mideast War.

The Mideast Quartet of big-power mediators tried, unsuccessfully, to get Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations.

Israel said it was prepared to resume direct talks without pre-conditions, but the Palestinians said direct negotiations were impossible as long as Israel continued to build settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The head of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) research group, Mahdi Abdel Hadi, said Palestinians are pessimistic about the prospects for peace.

"We realize that for the coming decade we will continue bleeding because there is no progress in any direction," he said. "Washington is not there, Europe is too busy, the Arab world is divided. And with this labor pain of the new system in the making we will continue confronting and challenging on the ground the Israelis."

Israeli columnist Danny Rubinstein has similar misgivings about the Israelis.

"Because this government is not ready to do anything," Israelis also are pessimistic, he said. "And the problem is not government. The problem is the people. The Israeli people have become more and more hardliner, right wing."

Fatah, Hamas

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement sought to end the rift with rival Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip. Leaders of the two groups said they wanted to reconcile and hold new elections in the Palestinian territories.

Israel said it would abandon peace moves if the Palestinians reconciled because Hamas wants to destroy Israel.

But the Israeli government released more than 1,000 Palestinians in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been captured by Hamas five years before.

Gaza-based analyst Mahmoud Ajrami said the exchange boosted Hamas's popularity and weakened support for Abbas among Palestinians.

"This gives more hope and reality that with resistance, and only with resistance, we can restore our rights," he said.

Arab Spring

Concern grew in Israel over the expanding power of Islamists following popular uprisings in a number of Arab states.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he feared the winds of change would fuel anti-Israel sentiment and threaten stability.

"The whole area around us is unstable," he said. "It is a political and security earthquake whose outcome we still do not know. In this kind of situation, more than any other time, we have to make sure that we have strong, fundamental security."

Columnist Rubinstein disagreed, explaining that the Islamist parties that won in Tunisia and Egypt have popular support and that Israel and the West should engage them.

"I am not afraid of them because I know they are not crazy," he said. "They are not Taliban and they are not al-Qaida. They are like the Turkish Islamic movement. They are practical."

PASSIA's Abdel Hadi said the Islamist movement was changing and beginning to participate in democratic society, but that it wouldn't abandon the Palestinian cause.

"We have been the core of the Arab cause," he said. "Since World War I, 1914, the Arab revolt of 1916, 1917, all the process, with Gamal Abdel Nasser, with the political Islam, we have been there at the core."

Analysts disagreed on how the popular uprisings in Arab states might change the Middle East. But most agreed that the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock did not bode well for peace and stability in the region.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
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 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 Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs