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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid