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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid