News / Middle East

Can Israeli-Palestinian Talks Succeed?

FILE - Israeli parliament employees set up a Palestinian and Israeli flag ahead of a meeting between Israeli parliament members and a delegation of Palestinian politicians and businessmen aimed at encouraging Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, July 31, 2013.
FILE - Israeli parliament employees set up a Palestinian and Israeli flag ahead of a meeting between Israeli parliament members and a delegation of Palestinian politicians and businessmen aimed at encouraging Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, July 31, 2013.
Mohamed Elshinnawi
A new public opinion poll indicates pessimism is growing among both Israelis and Palestinians about the status of peace negotiations and the long-term prospects for an agreement. Negotiations resumed this summer following mediation by the United States.
 
Shibley Telhami, professor of peace and development at the University of Maryland, who conducted the survey believes that pessimism on both sides is a real barrier to making progress.

“Only four percent of Israelis and 11 percent of Palestinians think the American mediation effort will succeed,” Telhami said. “When you start with such pessimism, it is very hard to get the two sides to compromise.”
 
Telhami said that a small majority on both sides supported a “package deal,” a proposal along the lines of what experts expect a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian accord to look like. 

“Looking at these results, it seems that one of the few things that Israelis and Palestinians can agree on is that peace is not on their horizon,” Telhami said. “A majority of both Israelis and Palestinians are pessimistic about both the current round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and long-term peace prospects.”

In July, the Obama administration launched an ambitious effort to restart talks aimed at trying to resolve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The two sides only agreed to enter a nine-month period of talks, under U.S. sponsorship, after heavy American pressure. They have since held a series of quiet meetings which yieded no tangible results, yet plenty of finger-pointing.

The Palestinians accuse Israel of negotiating in bad faith by continuing to build settlements in areas they hope will become part of a future Palestinian state. Israel counters by saying that the Palestinians are hindering peace because they continue to refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
 
U.S. cautiously optimistic

The Obama administration acknowledges that the process is difficult and will take time.

In his remarks Saturday to an annual forum of top Israeli and U.S. policymakers and experts convened by the Brookings Institution' Saban Center for Middle East Policy, President Barack Obama lowered expectations for the outcome of renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks.

“I think it is possible over the next several months to arrive at a framework that does not address every single detail," he said.

The U.S. president said that the onus rests on both sides.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli military and intelligence folks have to make that determination,” he said. “And ultimately, the Palestinians have to also recognize that there is going to be a transition period. But it’s going to require some very tough decisions.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to the same group, said Israeli security was a focus of the recent talks.

“We are examining every potential security scenario, something on the border, something in the future, terrorism in the future, a weakness in the Hashemite Kingdom, whatever it might be,” he said.

Kerry anticipated a similar U.S. effort for Palestinian security.

“We anticipate that the United States will continue to play a leading role in building – helping to build Palestinian capacity, helping to build their capabilities to maintain law and order; to cooperate in an effective judicial system; to counter terrorism and smuggling; and manage border security, customs, immigration,” he said.

A different U.S. role

Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Saban Center, insisted that the U.S. should play a more active role if a peace deal is to be reached.
 
“Everyone knows there is an enormous power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians, and unless this imbalance is addressed through some form of U.S. pressure, the Israelis can afford to ignore the main concerns of the Palestinians such as the settlement expansion,” Elgindy said.
 
Telhami, who is also a fellow at the Saban Center, agreed that it would be impossible for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate every term of each issue on their own.
 
“Only a package comprehensive deal has a shot; where there are tradeoffs with a potential to end the conflict and that package can only come from the U.S.,” he said.
 
Elgindy argues that this put the U.S. into the role of a true mediator, instead of just facilitator.
 
“There is no way this long conflict would be resolved without the U.S. putting a peace proposal on the table and pressure both sides to compromise,” he said.
 
Saban Center director Tamara Cofman Wittes, who served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, stressed timing was of the essence for the U.S. role to be useful.
 
“Secretary Kerry would have to judge when the moment is right for the U.S. to make its own package of peace proposals,” she said.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid