A major Israeli-Palestinian summit in Washington is only hours away, but you'd hardly know it by the sparse media coverage and the relative paucity of comment from an administration that is working hard to keep expectations in check.
Looking through my in-box, there are lots of statements and briefings from the White House and State Department – but only a smattering of news about the talks, which will begin at the State Department dinner on Wednesday night.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- On the eve of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the spiritual leader of the Shas Party wished for the demise of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this world," Rabbi Ovadia Yosef reportedly said during his weekly Saturday night sermon at a Jerusalem synagogue. "God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians."
Yosef also called the Palestinians "evil, bitter enemies of Israel."
‘Huge stakes’ for region, Obama administration if expectations unmet.
James D. Besser
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meet at the State Department next week for their first direct negotiations in 20 months, predictions of quick breakthroughs and swift progress will be in short supply.
Experts divided on prospects of talks, but some suggest prime minister may be willing to bring in Kadima.
If the Palestinians are serious about a peace agreement with Israel, many analysts believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the desire and ability to deliver it — even if it means having to change his coalition.
“If [Mahmoud] Abbas decides to move forward and do what is doable, he will have a partner in Netanyahu,” said Jonathan Rynhold, a senior lecturer at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- It's a peace conference where nothing is off the table. -- or on it, for that matter.
The Obama administration's invitation to Palestinian and Israeli leaders to launch direct talks on Sept. 2 attempts to reconcile Israeli demands for no preconditions with Palestinian demands that the talks address all the core issues: final borders, the fate of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.
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.