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Israel has lost faith in talks with Palestine, says report in New Republic

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 - 9:14pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

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An astonishing report in the New Republic stresses on how John Kerry tried in vain to broker a peace deal between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority. Here are the major points from the report:

The Palestinian side cared more about their precondition of releasing over 500 prisoners than about the talks

The Palestinian side insisted on a price to join these talks, and the price on which they settled was the release of 104 convicted murderers AND another 400 prisoners convicted for lesser crimes. Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said: “These are your heroes. I don’t know why they are your heroes.” The Palestinian side pressed harder and longer for the releases than it did on any of the big issues supposedly at stake in the talks. US President Barack Obama directly told the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas:  "Don’t quibble with this detail or that detail. The occupation will end. You will get a Palestinian state. You will never have an administration as committed to that as this one." The quibbling, however, did not stop, provoking National Security Adviser Susan Rice (regarded by the Palestinian side as their best friend in the administration) to snap, "You Palestinians can never see the f****** big picture."

Israel has lost faith in discussions/ agreements with Palestine.

The agreements of the 1990s, culminating in the 1993 Oslo Accords, were initiated by the Israelis and Palestinians themselves. They led to the famous handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat at the White House, to the creation of the Palestinian Authority under Arafat’s rule ... and then at last collapsed in the Second Intifada, in which more than 1,000 Israelis lost their lives. Since then, the Palestinian government has split in two. Hamas has taken power in Gaza, and uses the territory to pound Israel with rockets. Israel went to war in Gaza in December 2008 to stop the rockets. Israel is at war in Gaza again in 2014 for the same reason. The second part of the Palestine government, led by Fatah, operates in the West Bank. Israel has provided light arms and ammunition to Fatah in 2006. The movement was founded by Yasir Arafat.

Few to none of the Israelis mentined in the New Republic report hold much hope that any agreement will bring real peace with the Palestinians. The optimists believe that even a bad deal is better than continuing to rule over Palestinian populations. The pessimists regard the negotiations as a useless or even dangerous waste of time. The middle ground plays along, in order to humour the United States.

A lot more was done internationally with John Kerry as US Secretary of State than Hillary Clinton, who preceded him and ran for President

John Kerry’s initiative failed. But the risk of failure attends every political initiative. It’s fine to calculate how much political risk to accept. But when a secretary of state in pursuit of his or her own political future decides that no risk is acceptable, then nothing much is ever tried. Which is why Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state is so dismal. By 2012, Obama had given up on hopes of negotiating an Abbas-Netanyahu deal. Kerry’s hopes had dwindled, but not yet died. "I think we have some period of time—in one to one-and-a-half to two years—or it’s over,” Kerry said in 2013. So he tried. He failed. But in other places where is he trying, he seems to be succeeding: smoothing the post-Karzai political transition in Afghanistan, reaching US-Europe consensus on how to respond to Russia in Ukraine. It seems you get a lot more done by doing your job than by positioning and planning for your next one.

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