For weeks there have been murmurings in the Israeli press about the likely resumption of direct Israeli – Palestinian peace talks, and yesterday there were reports both sides will be invited to Washington in early September to start negotiations under the auspices of the Mideast Quartet.<
It’s an old joke with a not-so-funny punch line: the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Sadly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is giving new credence to the cliché as he is pressed from all sides to begin direct peace talks with Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants them, and he has convinced President Barack Obama that face-to-face negotiations are preferable to the unproductive, indirect “proximity talks” now underway under the auspices of U.S. envoy George Mitchell.
Whether or not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a strategic vision for peace I'll leave to the experts in the mysteries of Israeli politics. One thing I can say with confidence: in the day-to-day diplomatic trench warfare with Palestinian leaders, he looks like a genius.
The latest example: his ongoing call for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, which has now become a refrain of the Obama administration.
Tonight's Israeli newspapers are touting President Obama's promise to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. will press for “direct” talks between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible instead of the indirect “proximity” talks now underway.
This is supposedly a victory for Netanyahu, who in news stories leading up to today's White House summit was portrayed as putting direct talks at the top of his Washington wish list, but I wonder; is that what he really wants?
If the Presbyterian Church (USA), which is meeting in Minneapolis this week, really cares about peace in the region it will soundly reject the latest report by its Middle East Study Committee.
This isn't about the frustrating search for some way to end the Middle East conflict; it's about a handful of determined Church activists with a serious grudge against the Jewish state, who don't much care that their churlish activism in the guise of religious morality is just making peace harder to attain.
Of all Israel’s “red-line” issues on which there can be no compromise in negotiations with the Palestinians, “the reddest line” is not Jerusalem, as commonly believed, but accepting Palestinian refugees, according to Yossi Beilin, Israel’s minister of justice.
Beilin, well known for his dovish views on and longstanding involvement in the peace process, is adamant in asserting that Israel cannot take in refugees claiming a right of return, and still maintain its Jewish character.
Gaps narrowed in Israeli-Palestinian talks, but no breakthroughs
Lawrence Cohler-Esses and James D. Besser
Like Lucy holding out her football for Charlie Brown to kick again, President Clinton, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat once more raised the world’s expectations Monday for a breakthrough on their long-stalled peace agreement.
But when the three faced an expectant White House press corps after their meeting, Clinton again voiced the phrases heard so often before.
Israeli troops eased their grip on seven of eight major Palestinian cities they controlled this week amid warnings that the longer they clamped down on the population, the greater the likelihood they would have to bear the responsibilities of an occupying power.
Israel's security cabinet Wednesday approved work permits for another 5,000 Palestinians; 2,000 already have such permits to work in Israel, and it ordered the unfreezing of some Palestinian funds to allow the Palestinian Authority to pay for water and electricity.