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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora