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    » 08/21/2010, 00.00

    ISRAEL - PALESTINE

    Scepticism over "direct" dialogue between Israel and Palestine

    Joshua Lapide

    Although Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to meet next on Sept. 2, problems seem insurmountable settlements, Jerusalem, return of refugees. Hamas is sceptical, but also moderate Palestinian and Israeli figures. AsiaNews sources: Enough with palliative care. A large international initiative is needed.

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday accepted the invitation offered by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to travel to Washington on Sept. 2 to resume direct dialogue interrupted 20 months ago. They have a year to "resolve all final status issues".

    The meeting in the U.S. capital will also attended by Egyptian President Mubarak, King Abdallah of Jordan and the representative of the Quartet (U.S., UN, EU, Russia), in the person of the politician Tony Blair.

    In the words of Clinton, the dialogue should be "without preconditions", as Netanyahu has always preached in recent months. The Palestinians have always instead demanded a freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in exchange for dialogue. And this was also the U.S. and Barack Obama’s position.

    For many observers, including Israeli, the spread of settlements is such that its now impossible to establish a geographically unified Palestinian state. Palestinians have been left small islands, similar to the "Bantustans", the reserves in the old racist South Africa.

    The statement of the Quartet dares to say something about the future Palestinian state, saying that dialogue will lead to an agreement "that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours". But it fails to mention the fate of Jewish settlements.

    The main aim of the dialogue therefore seems unachievable given the remaining problems that appear insurmountable: the colonies, the status of Jerusalem, the borders of the future Palestine, the right of refugees to return. In addition, the two leaders, Netanyahu and Abbas are too weak to find a solution: Netanyahu is supported by a far right that will not accept any compromise on settlements and Jerusalem. Abbas is the head of a moderate formation, but one that is weak and cut off from the rest of the Palestinians. "These direct negotiations - Zakaria al Qaq of Qods University told the New York Times, - are the option of the crippled and the helpless". She added: "It is an act of self-deception that will lead nowhere."

    Nevertheless, European and American politicians and heads of state have expressed joy over talks. Their joy however is contrasted by the scepticisms of Hamas, which has branded them as a U.S. attempt to "fool the Palestinian people”.

    But this scepticism is also shared by liberal Israeli personalities such as Yossi Beilin, who called the proposal "a giant mistake by the U.S. administration." According to Beilin, the abyss between the two sides is too big and Netanyahu is not in a position to talk.

    AsiaNews sources in Jerusalem confirm that "people are exhausted by the duration of this Israeli – Palestinian conflict. Many in the region have become defeatist, have lost hope that peace is possible. At most, they agree now only to attempts to manage the crisis rather than resolve it. There is indeed the mindset that the contrasts are too strong, that the contradictions are too entrenched and in the end, intractable, so all that can be achieved is supervision of the management of the crisis, in an attempt to contain it, to prevent it becoming open violent conflict, by continuously providing small new palliative concessions. Ultimately, however, this position - though understandable – will fail. Eventually, the containment of the crisis will merely feed those underlying fires that sooner or later are likely to come to the surface with losses on all sides”.

    The U.S. effort is likely to be "another palliative concession”. Instead what is really needed is "a great international effort to bring about the total reconciliation of all countries in the region."
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    See also

    24/11/2009 ISRAEL-PALESTINE
    In 20 years of violence, 7398 Palestinians and 1483 Israelis killed
    The data revealed by an Israeli human rights organisation. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls on Israel to revoke the permit system, which in practice prevents Palestinians the use of 60% of their territory.

    25/09/2010 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Clashes in East Jerusalem as talks stall between Netanyahu and Abbas
    Hundreds of young Palestinians clashed with Israeli police in Issauia, Silwan, Wadi Joz, Ras al-Amud. Israel willing to "compromise" on the colonies, but not to point of zero growth. Abbas calls for a total freeze. Obama is pushing for the extension of the moratorium on settlements.

    23/04/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – US
    Uncertainty surrounds Mitchell’s mission
    The US Mideast envoy has a difficult job ahead. He is in Jerusalem to jumpstart peace talks. The Palestinians demand a settlement freeze; Netanyahu responds that they will not stop in Jerusalem; the State Department notes, “We don't go to meet just to meet.”

    10/03/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – US
    UN and US slam new East Jerusalem settlements
    Generally negative reactions greet Israeli Interior Minister’s announcement, which comes at a time when US vice president is in the country to re-launch the peace process. Inside Israel, criticism is heated. For the Kadima party, it sets “a new record for diplomatic stupidity.” Palestinians call for concerted reaction by Arab countries.

    16/09/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
    Jewish settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem hindering Israeli-Palestinian talks
    Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to leave negotiations if settlement activity does not stop. Freeze on new construction is set to expire in ten days. Netanyahu refuses to extend freeze, claiming security is Israel’s top priority.



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