News / Middle East

US Juggles Talks on Two Middle East Disputes

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks on a mobile phone after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 8, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks on a mobile phone after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 8, 2013.
Cecily Hilleary
The Obama administration is facing a scheduling crisis. It is involved in nearly simultaneous negotiations on two of the most contentious issues in the Middle East: Iran’s nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Are the two issues linked?  And will success or failure with either set of talks affect the outcome of the other?

Aaron David Miller, Vice President for New Initiatives at the Washington-based Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, believes that the  P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran were orchestrated based on a premise that if the US addressed Israel concerns on Iran, then Israel might then come to a deal with the Palestinians – something he says was a mistake.

Aaron David MillerAaron David Miller
x
Aaron David Miller
Aaron David Miller
“But I think that’s an idealized logic, and it seems almost now very unhappy and unlucky that these two negotiating tracks will come to fruition roughly around the same time—because if there is no deal that satisfies the Israelis on Iran, there is absolutely no way that the Israeli prime minister is going to be in a mood or have the motivation to make big decision on the Palestinian-Israeli track,” he said. 

Miller believes the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are in deep trouble, unrelated to what he calls the “ill-advised timing” of Iran talks. 

“You have leaders who are risk-averse, not risk-ready,” he said. “You have large gaps between the two sides.  You don’t have the kind of urgency that is required to create the pain and the prospects of pain necessary for a deal. And it is yet to be determined whether or not you have a third party, namely the United States that is prepared to do what is necessary—assuming all the other factors are in place."

“The tougher the US is on Iran, the more leverage it has pushing Israel toward concessions on the Palestinians,” Bard College Professor Walter Russell Meade predicted in an October blog post. “The more risks the Administration takes and concessions it makes to get a deal with Iran, the tighter the Israelis are tempted to circle the wagons.”

The Israeli Prime Minister seemed to confirm that point in remarks ahead of meeting Secretary of State John Kerry November 8.

“Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do defend itself and to defend the security of its people,” Netanyahu said.  “That is true also of our negotiations with the Palestinians.  I will never compromise on Israel’s security and our vital interests, not in the face of any international pressure.  I think the pressure needs to be put on the Palestinians, who refuse to budge.”

Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of Washington, DC-based Jerusalem Fund, explains that in international bargaining, there is always some linkage of the issues.

“Those who link these two issues believe Netanyahu really wants the US to do something about Iran,” he said. “What I mean by that is that the Israeli Prime Minister has very successfully used the issue of Iran to deflect attention away from the incessant settlement expansion that has happened, particularly under his time in the premiership.”

Pushing Iran to the top of the global agenda, says Munayyer, focuses international attention away from the peace process, where nothing has transpired.  And, on top of that, he says, “the Palestinian negotiating team has resigned.”

To the Administration’s way of thinking, as John Kerry recently told Israeli television, once Israel signs a peace deal with the Palestinians, the remaining 19 or 20 countries which have not made peace with Israel – will do so immediately.

But for now Israel’s attention is focused on what will happen in Geneva. It also seems increasingly likely that any deal struck between the six world powers and Iran will be rejected by Israel, making Netanyahu even less willing to agree to any U.S. mediation efforts aimed at bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John from: London
November 30, 2013 9:16 AM
The Pals are a proxy for Iran and the KGB. There is no hope of peace with the Arabs/Muslims that's not how they do business. Islam is absolutist, indefatigable and genocidal. Israel will have to expel the Pal Arabs to Jordan, something which is overdue since thy country was created in 1922 on 78% of what was supposed to be the Jewish National Home. Kerry and Obama are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood as is the head of the CIA. Politics is a dirty business.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
November 22, 2013 9:02 AM
In all sincerity Israel does not need that peace deal by whatever name. Israel is making a concession of allowing the Palestinians live on Israel's land as a good gesture to its neighbors since it appears the strangers do not know their way back. Well and good. But having to force Israel to accept Iran with nuclear threat to its existence is the biggest lie of the century. Right now USA, EU, UN and the P5+1 negotiators are providing an avenue for Israel to put all it has into readiness for war. Should this be allowed to happen, the Palestinian issue will be relegated to oblivion. Those who think how dangerous it will be for Israel to go to war with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas (all at the same time) should understand that Israel already knows its front lines.

The worst hit shall be those in Gaza and West Bank. Hezbollah shall be Iran's front line, thus exposing Lebanon; and Syria, already war-ravaged may find convergence in the resolve to join its Arab neighbors to conclude the Resistance. It shall be a replay of the 1967 six-day war. Will it go the way it went in 1967? Nobody thinks so, but its outcome cannot be end of Israel but someone may want to remember that here was a group called Palestine. So if Iran loves the Palestinians; if the Arabs love them, let every hand be on deck to stop Iran's uranium enrichment. There is nothing else that can avert this war.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
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 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.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs