And they’re off.
For the first time since the 2007 Annapolis Conference, the US is restarting direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This comes after numerous strains in the US-Israel relationship (Settlement Freeze, East Jerusalem, Flotilla, etc.), months of “proximity talks” wherein the US met separately with the Izzies and Pallies to convince them to sit down together, Netanyahu and Abbas talking past each other, and 18 years during which the two sides have begun talking, stopped talking, begun talking again and again, stoppedÂ talkingÂ again and again, fought a lot, blew a lot of people up, built a lot of settlements, armed and activated a lot ofÂ terrorists, and generally have not been nice to each other at all.
In that little run-on sentence I didn’t even mention Hamas, Iran, Syria, Hizbollah, the Disengagement, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Kadima, Sheikh Jarrah, various wars that have taken place during the past decade and much, much more. As a leftist idealist, I want to hope. Nevertheless, I’m pessimistic. The current Israeli coalition–I think–is paying mere lip service to peace while being unwilling and unable to make any real compromises or concessions, due to its less pragmatic elements. Even if it could do those things, the settler movement in the West Bank is radicalized and will create hell for any soldiers brave enough to dismantle settlements. Beyond that, the Palestinians aren’t unified at all, Abbas has been historically ineffective and Hamas’s raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel–not a good foundation for a peace treaty.
Oh, yeah, and Israel may bomb Iran within the year, and Hizbollah is stocking up on weapons in Lebanon, and the US is entangled in two wars elsewhere in the Middle East. On top of that, it doesn’t seem like theseÂ talksÂ have specific goals or parameters from the outset, which is troubling.
And that’s just on the governmental level. I can’t speak for Palestinians, but I know that Israelis my age are also pessimistic and very wary of Palestinian intentions following the hellish events of the past decade. I’m sure I could say the same for Palestinian youth.
All of that being said, I’m happy to see that there are direct talks and I will be praying for them to succeed. I want peace, however far away it may seem. Anyway, here’s what some other people have to say about this:
An optimistic statement from Netanyahu. [JPost]
In the wake of the direct talks announcement, Hamas cancelsÂ reconciliationÂ talks with Fatah, which may be the only way to actually reach a true peace. [Ha’aretz]
The director of Americans for Peace Now says the only real solution is two states. [The Forward]
Al Jazeera expresses some (surprisingly balanced) skepticism. [Al Jazeera]
Here are the “Clinton Parameters,” which many expect to be the outline of the final settlement. [Jewish Peace Lobby]
And Syria is more pessimistic than me. [YNet]
Let’s hope these talks work! If you have any other interesting links to share, post them here! Happy Sunday.