The fact that the current Mideast peace talks are over — but for the bickering over who is to blame — is a shame, if not a tragedy. But it is certainly not a surprise. For all of Secretary of State Kerry’s energetic efforts since last summer in trying to revive a comatose situation, the fact remains that while Israel was, and is, prepared to make major compromises for peace, the Palestinian leadership is not.
Observant Jews in Israel can’t get no satisfaction.
That was the mantra this week as word spread that the Rolling Stones will make their first-ever appearance in the Jewish state on June 4. The reason for the dissatisfaction: because the Tel Aviv show will begin just a few minutes after the end of Shavuot (Israelis keep one day of Shavuot, not two), which rules out attendance for most of those who observe the holiday.
The fact that Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and its 103 consulates around the world are on strike is an embarrassment. Prime Minister Netanyahu had to cancel a planned trip in April to Latin America because of this strike, stemming from diplomats’ protests over employment conditions, including a pay cut. And the planned state visit of Pope Francis in May is in jeopardy, as are any number of other diplomatic projects.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, already on life support for months, could flatline this weekend. The issue now is not whether the negotiations will collapse, but who will take the primary blame for it.
Being a Palestinian Arab citizen in the nation-state of the Jewish people is challenging. Both a sense of justice and of self-interest should lead Israel not to make it any harder for the people who represent some 20 percent of the country’s population.
With the deadline for the Mideast peace talks five weeks away and little visible progress between the Palestinians and Israelis, it looks like the U.S. is more interested in saving face at this point than actually brokering a deal. The short-term goal is to get an agreement on a U.S.-drafted framework paper to allow for further talks.