Getting To The Table

Max Bermann compares George Mitchell’s task in Israel and to the feat he accomplished in Ireland:

Mitchell’s challenge isn’t so much getting to “yes” on an agreement but merely getting to the table. While in Ireland all sides were exhausted and were willing to take bold steps to begin negotiations – such as John Major quietly dropping the UK’s vow not to “negotiate with terrorists” and beginning talks with Sinn Fein and Sinn Fein’s acceptance of a status short of a united Ireland – in the Middle East the split between Hamas and Fatah, Israel’s refusal to negotiate with Hamas, and Hamas’ refusal to move down from its maximalist stance means simply getting to the table with all relevant players seems almost impossible. So Mitchell’s job over the next few years in terms of the peace process seems less about getting to “yes” and more about trying to rekindle momentum for peace that could eventually serve to push the parties to the negotiating table.