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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.