Who’s up for Israeli-Palestinian talks next week in DC?

posted at 8:41 am on July 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

At least one Israeli Cabinet minister has his bags packed — and says so on the record.  At a West Bank diplomatic meeting, Energy Secretary Silvan Shalom says that Israel is ready to get started on July 30th next week, if the Palestinians agree to the talks:

An Israeli cabinet minister said on Thursday that U.S.-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians could begin next week, but neither side could formally confirm his assessment. …

“As I understand, today, I think that the Palestinians will decide to come next week,” Energy Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters during regional cooperation talks in the West Bank.

“But of course it’s not something that I can speak on behalf of the Palestinians,” he said, speaking in English. “If they will do so, as I said, the negotiations will start next Tuesday in Washington.”

But what about the borders?  Thanks in part to Barack Obama’s public statement supporting the pre-1967 borders as the basis of negotiation, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate on any other basis.  However, Reuters’ anonymous diplomatic source says that John Kerry has apparently gotten the Palestinians to back down:

A Western official briefed on Kerry’s mission said on Sunday: “There are no terms of reference or any other agreements that the ’67 lines will be the basis for negotiations.”

Really? A week ago, the same mission seemed to float a trial balloon to the exact opposite effect, one that the Israelis wasted no time in enthusiastically and angrily popping.  A few days later, John Kerry announced that the two sides had agreed to direct talks anyway — which Abbas himself quashed.

There are two possibilities.  One is that the US mission is engaging in pressure tactics via news leaks to get both sides back to the table, only conducting the campaign so awkwardly that it’s too obvious to work.  The other is that the movement has been genuine but the leaks premature.  Getting this quote on the record from a Cabinet minister tends to support the latter scenario, and we haven’t heard any direct denials in this case … yet.

The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake is a reliable voice on foreign affairs, as is Josh Rogin, who had been at Foreign Policy before joining Lake at TDB.  Lake and Rogin believe that Kerry might have succeeded in getting both sides back to the table, in part by getting Obama to stop talking about the settlement issue:

A year later, Kerry began to express private doubts about the president’s peace initiative. According to a Feb. 24, 2010, U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks, Kerry raised concerns about the peace process during a Feb. 13 meeting with Lowenstein and Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. After Thani said the idea of proximity talks would waste between four and six months, Kerry responded flatly, “We are where we are.” He added that dissent within the ranks of Abbas’s Fatah Party and demands for Israel to freeze all settlement construction meant “the ingredients for the Palestinian people to accept direct talks simply are not there.”

Fourteen months later, Kerry began to voice such criticism in public. Speaking at the 2011 U.S.-Islamic World Forum, sponsored by the Brookings Institution, Kerry said, “I was opposed to the prolonged effort on the settlements in a public way because I never thought it would work and, in fact, we have wasted a year and a half on something that for a number of reasons was not achievable.”

Eventually, Obama came around to Kerry’s view. By the end of 2010, the Obama administration had largely stopped pressuring Israel to extend the settlement freeze, and the Palestinians refused to participate in any talks with Israel in the absence of such a freeze. In a visit to Israel in March 2013, the president said he would not place any preconditions on Israel or the Palestinians to prepare the ground for new negotiations, a departure from his public pressure on Israel to freeze settlement activity as a condition for talks in his first term. …

The White House also has not engaged in any preliminary peace talks with the Palestinians or the Israelis, another key difference from the first term.

Instead those negotiations have been left to Kerry and Lowenstein, who now serves as the deputy special envoy for Middle East peace and has remained in the region. State Department officials say Lowenstein has been instrumental in the back-and-forth diplomacy that has led Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to agree in principle to come to Washington next week to begin talks about restarting the peace process. If those talks succeed, the staffer and the senator will deserve much of the credit.

In this conflict, success can be defined as just getting the parties to the table.  After that, it’s up to them.


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Hey, with Kerry & Obama in charge, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?*


*- /really, do I need to add this?

BlaxPac on July 25, 2013 at 8:46 AM

This Time Will Be Different

*YAWN*

Bitter Clinger on July 25, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Anything to get the “scandals” off the front pages…

Productive?

When have talks with the Palestinians ever been productive?

Israel caved at the Wye Plantation summit, Bill Clinton’s last attempt to get a Nobel Peace Prize…gave the Palestinians everything they demanded (except for all the Jews in Israel to simply die…) and the Palestinians said, “No.”

This is all optics to try to polish the image of Team Obama…nothing else.

coldwarrior on July 25, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Who knows? Maybe this perennially useless effort will keep Teh Won occupied enough that he won’t screw anything else up.

Kafir on July 25, 2013 at 9:01 AM

A Western official briefed on Kerry’s mission said on Sunday: “There are no terms of reference or any other agreements that the ’67 lines will be the basis for negotiations.”

Yeah but nothing will happen without the ’67 borders and “right to return” issues going in favor of the terrorists.

Happy Nomad on July 25, 2013 at 9:04 AM

Who’s up for Israeli-Palestinian talks next week in DC?

…Joe Biden?

KOOLAID2 on July 25, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Who are these “Palestinian” people of whom you speak?

WhatSlushfund on July 25, 2013 at 9:11 AM

KOOLAID2 on July 25, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Beer summit!!!

coldwarrior on July 25, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Here’s another interesting question: Why would the Israiels want to “return” (ie: won in a fair fight they didn’t orchestrate) to ’67 borders especially with Syria in the midst of a Civil war?

Those borders aren’t just lines on a map, they define the response and response time their military has to react to rocket & artillery fire being sent their way from a state that has known WMD…which apparently someone there isn’t hesitating on using.

The fact we have to use the word “somebody” in said State should be enough to scare the Fluke out of any sane leader.

BlaxPac on July 25, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Who are these “Palestinian” people of whom you speak?

WhatSlushfund on July 25, 2013 at 9:11 AM

…I think you can call them on ObamaPhones!

KOOLAID2 on July 25, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Beer summit!!!

coldwarrior on July 25, 2013 at 9:11 AM

…and JugEars is brewing his own now!…cause he has too much time on his hands…

KOOLAID2 on July 25, 2013 at 9:14 AM

There will be no peace until one side or the other is dead.

Bmore on July 25, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Lurch: Stop building on your own land.

Israel: Gai kakhen afenyam

batterup on July 25, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Chatting about economy, chatting about Israel’s borders, etc…3+ years left of Malaise-In-Chief.

hillsoftx on July 25, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Chatting about economy, chatting about Israel’s borders, etc…3+ years left of Malaise-In-Chief.

hillsoftx on July 25, 2013 at 9:19 AM

…I think that is “Chit-In-Chief”

KOOLAID2 on July 25, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Israel: Gai kakhen afenyam

batterup on July 25, 2013 at 9:16 AM

+1000 :-)

coldwarrior on July 25, 2013 at 9:28 AM

There are two possibilities. One is that the US mission is engaging in pressure tactics via news leaks to get both sides back to the table, only conducting the campaign so awkwardly that it’s too obvious to work. The other is that the movement has been genuine but the leaks premature. Getting this quote on the record from a Cabinet minister tends to support the latter scenario, and we haven’t heard any direct denials in this case … yet.

Or there is of course the third possibility. That being that The One and Lurch are fantasizing again. Which would handily explain everyone else’s reactions.

As for the 1967 borders, they were substantially the same as those established by the 1949 armistice after the Arabs tried- and failed- to destroy Israel right at the start. Said borders having been established mainly to make the Jewish state as vulnerable as possible, in the hope that the Arabs would crush it, the whole “Jewish Question” would disappear off the radar- and the history books- and the result would be “good will” from the oil-rich Arab world toward Europe and, especially, the UK. (Thank you, Clement Attlee- for nothing.)

Keeping in mind that the majority of the “Palestinians” are the descendants of Muslims who voluntarily left the areas in question, in the belief that once the Arab league had crushed the nascent Jewish state they could move back in and take everything, there would seem to be little reason to either consider those “borders” realistic, or in fact to consider them as anything but yet another attempt by the “enlightened” leaders of the West to get rid of the whole nasty MidEast problem once and for all.

By getting rid of the side they don’t like. And it isn’t the Arabs.

Exactly why our “intellectuals” are so enamored of primitivists who constantly call for our destruction, is something we might do well to contemplate.

clear ether

eon

eon on July 25, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Thanks in part to Barack Obama’s public statement supporting the pre-1967 borders as the basis of negotiation, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate on any other basis.

My children’s children will be long since dead before Israel willingly agrees to the pre-1967 borders. It’s a non-starter, even as a negotiation tactic. Anyone who doesn’t see this is either criminally stupid or criminally insane. Or both.

Chris of Rights on July 25, 2013 at 9:41 AM

OMG who cares?!?! I thought Clinton sloved this sh!t once and for all.

abobo on July 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Nothing another beer summit won’t solve.

NoDonkey on July 25, 2013 at 10:20 AM

The boor Balestinains talk the talk, and Israel’s stupid leaders let them walk the walk.

Shy Guy on July 25, 2013 at 10:52 AM

OMG who cares?!?!

abobo on July 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Obviously you care, because we see you posting in practically every HA entry mentioning Israel.

Now, why is that???

Shy Guy on July 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Not again. Has anyone kept a count of the number of these so-called “Peace Talks”?

SC.Charlie on July 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Helen Thomas could not be reached for a comment.

SC.Charlie on July 25, 2013 at 12:37 PM