News / Middle East

Washington Settlements Decision a Sign of Hope for Israelis, Despair for Palestinians

Houses under construction are seen in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, 08 Dec 2010
Houses under construction are seen in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, 08 Dec 2010

Multimedia

Audio

The U.S. decision to abandon efforts to persuade Israel to curb building on Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank is stoking anger among the Palestinians, who are questioning the Obama administration's ability to broker a peace agreement. Some analysts, however, say Washington's action may help jump-start the peace process.

For the Israelis, Washington's announcement was merely a change of approach.  As the Palestinians see it, it is a sign that the peace process has run amuck.

Chief Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat accuses the Israelis of manipulating Washington into giving up a demand that the Palestinians see as key.

He says the damage that the Israelis have caused to the peace process is huge. He says the Palestinians still hope that the U.S. administration holds Israel responsible for that failure, and announces recognition of a Palestinian state if Washington wants to be true to its prior commitments to a two-state solution.

The Palestinians threaten to stay away from negotiations unless Israel freezes construction on settlements. They see no point in negotiating while Israelis are - in the words of one negotiator - colonizing the land on which the Palestinians hope to build a future state.

Israel declared a 10-month slowdown on settlement construction last year under U.S. pressure and as an incentive to bring the Palestinians back to negotiations. When the freeze expired in September, Israel refused to extend it, prompting the Palestinians to walk out of talks.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says the freeze issue has gotten in the way of progress in the negotiations, and he welcomed Washington's decision to drop it.

"The freeze was seen as a mechanism to help bring forward the peace agreement," he said. "Unfortunately, that proved to be dysfunctional. So, now we've got to find another mechanism by which to move forward and achieve a historic peace agreement. We think it's doable."

Akiva Eldar is a senior columnist for the Tel Aviv newspaper, Haaretz. He is optimistic that the process may now move ahead. "It will help to clear the sky and the horizon. We will realize whether it is possible to reach a final settlement," said Eldar.

U.S. mediators had hoped that a freeze would give both sides room to hammer out an agreement on the borders of a future Palestinian state.  Eldar says that in the absence of an agreement on a freeze to begin with, there was little hope that the talks would succeed.

"Unfortunately, it was doomed to fail, the negotiations, because of the differences between Israel and the Palestinians as well as with the rest of the international community," he said. "There was no way that we the Israelis and the Palestinians can meet half way because there is no halfway, only if we reach a final settlement.  Otherwise, it's better to keep away from the whole issue of settlements."

Mustafa Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian activist who heads an opposition movement in the West Bank, is not as hopeful. He says the Palestinians had depended on President Barack Obama to push harder against Israeli settlements and occupation as he articulated in his speech to the world's Muslims in 2009, when Mr. Obama said it was time for Israel to stop its settlement activity.

"There is a great disappointment here because there were lots of hopes after President Obama made his speech in Cairo," said the activist. "The fact that the United States President, the head of the only superpower in the world is incapable of making Israel come to mind and stop its violation of international law is definitely an alarming sign."

The perception among many Palestinians is that the support they thought they had in the U.S. President is no more, and leaders say they are considering their options, which analysts say may not be many.

NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid