Jewish leaders expect no breakthroughs from Mitchell’s shuttle diplomacy, but say they could bear modest fruit.
James D. Besser
Rarely have peace negotiations started with such low expectations — but that doesn’t mean the indirect “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinians, due to begin as early as this week with new rounds of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, are doomed to failure.
While suggesting that major breakthroughs are unlikely, many analysts say the talks could prove fruitful, but only if the Obama administration understands the limitations of what the parties themselves can reasonably be expected to do.
Tel Aviv — Work on Israel’s controversial separation barrier has ground to a virtual halt as the country’s attention — and budget funding — has shifted away from the threat of Palestinian suicide bombers from the West Bank, say fence advocates.
Ariel, West Bank — On a sprawling hill top in this West Bank town Tuesday, a commitment made by Israel’s leader in distant Annapolis this week seemed likely to take one of two possible paths, with the outlines of each already apparent.
“Look up there. My son lives in that container,” gestured Arik Yeffet. “There are leaks in the winter, and the heating is insufficient. He deserves to have a spot of his own. Did we commit a crime?”
Reform movement leader blasts money to outlying communities.
The Israeli cabinet’s vote Sunday to pour money into 91 outlying West Bank settlements has touched off a fierce debate here about the propriety of funneling resources into settlements that may be abandoned in a peace treaty.
Speaking at Monday’s Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded very much like a man who didn’t want to antagonize the president he was about to meet under visibly strained circumstances.
Several hours later the White House distributed a meeting “readout” that may have set a new record for brevity. Amid an almost total clampdown on leaks, the statement said only that the two leaders “discussed a number of issues in the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship” and that President Barack Obama “reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel’s security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues.”
AIPAC’s relationship with the Obama administration hinges on the policies of Bibi Netanyahu
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which holds its annual policy conference in Washington next week, could face its toughest battle with an administration in more than a decade, depending on the proposals Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brings to Washington later in May.