THE NEAR EAST 'PEACE NEGOTIATIONS' REDEUX: A COMMENT
"After proximity talks and consultations with both sides, on behalf of the United States Government, I’ve invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to meet on September 2nd in Washington, D.C. to re-launch direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues, which we believe can be completed within one year.
President Obama has invited President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan to attend in view of their critical role in this effort. Their continued leadership and commitment to peace will be essential to our success. The President will hold bilateral meetings with the four leaders followed by a dinner with them on September 1st. The Quartet Representative Tony Blair has also been invited to the dinner in view of his important work to help Palestinians build the institutions of their future state, an effort which must continue during the negotiations. I’ve invited Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to join me here at the State Department on the following day for a trilateral meeting to re-launch direct negotiations.
As we move forward, it is important that actions by all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it. There have been difficulties in the past; there will be difficulties ahead. Without a doubt, we will hit more obstacles. The enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and to derail these talks. But I ask the parties to persevere, to keep moving forward even through difficult times, and to continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.
As we have said before, these negotiations should take place without preconditions and be characterized by good faith and a commitment to their success, which will bring a better future to all of the people of the region".
American Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, "Briefing on Middle East Peace Process," 20 August 2010, in www.state.gov.
"But the United States wants a peace process, preferably a long one designed to put off the day when it fails. This will allow the United States to appear to be deeply committed to peace and to publicly pressure the Israelis, which will be of some minor use in U.S. efforts to manipulate the rest of the region. But it will not solve anything. Nor is it intended to.
The problem is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are sufficiently unsettled to make peace. Both Egypt and Israel were shocked and afraid after the 1973war. Mutual fear is the foundation of peace among enemies. The uncertainty of the future sobers both sides. But the fact right now is that all of the players prefer the status quo to the risks of the future. Hamas doesn’t want to risk its support by negotiating and implicitly recognizing Israel. The PNA doesn’t want to risk a Hamas uprising in the West Bank by making significant concessions. The Israelis don’t want to gamble with unreliable negotiating partners on a settlement that wouldn’t enjoy broad public support in a domestic political environment where even simple programs can get snarled in a morass of ideology. Until reality or some as-yet-uncommitted force shifts the game, it is easier for them — all of them — to do nothing.
But the Americans want talks, and so the talks will begin".
George Friedman, "Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Again," 23 August 2010, in www.stratfor.com
For once, the American online journal Stratfor has put the descriptive nail on the head. The talks, such as they are, have been willed by the Americans. It does not appear per se that either party is very enthusiastic about said talks. And, per se in many cases that does not matter: peoples and their leaders are rarely enthusiastic about compromises that making peace involves. On (sometimes) the end result. However, in the current case, it is not entirely clear that these pourparlers (to use an exact diplomatic description of what is allegedly going to occur) will result in anything other than a short phase of discussions and then inevitably deadlock over the various issues: Palestinian Statehood, settlements, Gaza, de-militarization, water rights, refugee re-settlement, which are the main topics of discussions between the two sides. It does not appear from any of the public information available that the Americans are prepared to pressure (that is in the end what it amounts to) the Israeli government into making the concessions necessary which would cause the Palestinian Authority leadership to in turn make the necessary compromises (principally over Refugee Re-settlement) in order to make plausible a peace settlement. Ergo, we will soon back at square one diplomatically speaking. With nothing to show for the experience, except that the PA Authority leadership will stand accuse of being American puppets and stooges. And, concomitantly the Hamas leadership will be of course greatly strengthened in having refused to negotiate with Tel Aviv. Not a state of affairs that these discussions are meant to result in and encourage. However, it seems extremely unlikely that any other result will occur from these negotiations. In the absence of American pressure: diplomatic pressure, economic pressure, moral pressure on the Israeli leadership. And, that is something of which there is absolutely no sign of at present.