Widespread Cynicism on Israel-Palestine Peace Talks

Little hope despite Obama's securing a 90-day settlement freeze

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In the week since President Barack brokered a 90-day freeze on Israeli settlements in exchange for allowing the sale of $3 billion in U.S. arms, a move designed to extend the Israel-Palestine peace talks and hopefully break the impasse, the deep pessimism that surrounds all things Israel-Palestine has not abated. Here is what close watchers of the peace process are saying.

  • As Process Falters, Israel Loses Faith in U.S.  Politico's Ben Smith writes in a detailed examination of the peace process, "A visit here finds both Israelis and Palestinians blame him for the current stalemate – just as they blame one another. Instead of becoming a heady triumph of his diplomatic skill and special insight, Obama’s peace process is viewed almost universally in Israel as a mistake-riddled fantasy. ... In the world’s most pro-American state, the public and its leaders have lost any faith in Obama and – increasingly — even in the notion of a politically negotiated peace."
  • If Gambit Fails, Risks More Harm Than Good  Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch warns, "The deal only makes sense if serious progress on reaching agreement on borders can be made in three months. But the three months in question include Thanksgiving, the Eid al-Adha, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, and the seating of the new U.S. Congress. ... Since the United States promises not to ask for another extension, the 90-day deadline gives all kinds of incentives for those who don't really want a deal to stall."
  • This Won't Work  The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg writes, "This peace process won't work. It doesn't seem particularly healthy to keep making believe it will. I would like to see Prime Minister Netanyahu go to Ramallah and address the Palestinians directly, and provide them with a vision -- a generous vision, I hope -- of what the future could look like, and then set Israel on a course to achieve that vision. ... As attractive as it is to me to to believe that negotiations over borders will bear the sort of fruit that negotiations over settlements won't, I still can't imagine Israel withdrawing from significant chunks of the West Bank without understanding just how far the Palestinians will push their claims on Jerusalem and the so-called right of return."
  • Palestinian Gesture Could Progress Talks  The Daily Beast's Leslie Gelb says nothing will come "unless the Palestinians are prepared to put their own dramatic peace offer on the table, the way President Sadat of Egypt did in his historic 1977 peace visit to Jerusalem. ... I would not try to start negotiating between Israel and Palestine by leaning on or bribing Israel for the umpteenth time. It hasn’t worked. It won’t work. What might succeed is a dramatic step not by the Israelis, but by the Palestinians."
  • Everyone Blaming Everyone Else  Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell puts it beautifully on Twitter: "Recalcitrant Arabs and Israelis blame Obama for own recalcitrance." He links to Ben Smith's article, quoted above.
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