Seriously, if this is the Middle East “peace process”, we’re all doomed:
In perhaps the shortest round of peace negotiations in the history of their conflict, talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have ground to a halt and show little sign of resuming.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas haven’t met since Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought the two together on Sept. 15 in Jerusalem, two weeks after President Obama launched the resumption of negotiations on Palestinian statehood in Washington with much fanfare, including the presence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Now, the nearly six-week pause threatens to become permanent.
Pressure to restart the talks eased after the Arab League said it would wait a month – until Nov. 8 – before ending Abbas’s mandate for negotiations, thus pushing the issue beyond the U.S. midterm elections. But if Republicans score big gains, some Israelis argue, that could limit Obama’s ability to pressure Israel to make concessions. U.S. peace envoy George J. Mitchell is supposed to return to the region, but no date has been set.
In a speech Wednesday to Palestinian peace activists, Clinton acknowledged that “I cannot stand here tonight and tell you there is some magic formula that I have discovered that will break through the current impasse.”
While the administration has set a goal of achieving an agreement less than 11 months from now, Clinton at one point suggested a much longer time frame: “The future holds the possibility of progress, if not in our lifetimes, then certainly in our children’s.”
The proximate cause of the breakdown is Israel’s decision not to extend a 10-month partial freeze of settlement building on Palestinian lands, but in the view of many analysts, the problems go much deeper.
The Obama administration, worried that the impending end of the settlement freeze would leave a potentially dangerous vacuum, rushed into talks without a plan for dealing with the end of the moratorium, officials acknowledge. The hope was that sheer momentum would carry the talks forward.