Resumption of peace talks remain hard nut to crack for Kerry

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-4-11 8:54:52

The United States Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed to promote Palestinian economic development as part of a confidence building measure between the two sides.

Kerry made the statement as he was leaving Israel, his third visit since assuming the position of secretary of state in February and added that further details would be announced during a press conference in Washington next week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted on Tuesday as saying that he welcomed proposals for economic assistance to the Palestinians; however he added that the issues such as security and recognition are critical to Israel.

The call for recognition refers to Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, which is one of the two main obstacles that Kerry needs to deal with to resume peace negotiations. The second obstacle is Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' demand that Israel reinstate a settlement construction freeze on the West Bank before he would be willing to resume negotiations.

So far Netanyahu has refused Abbas' demand and vice versa. Analysts told Xinhua that it would be very difficult for Kerry to remove the preconditions.

"What Kerry is trying to do is first and foremost to remove the obstacle from the road of reviving the peace negotiations between the two parts," Dr. Anat Kurz of the Tel Aviv University told Xinhua on Wednesday.

She added that the preconditions need to be "removed from the scene otherwise there will be no way for the two sides to sit together and discuss the real issues."

When Israel implemented a settlement freeze from November 2009 to September 2010, it did so after Obama's insistence. Obama hoped that the break in settlement construction would build confidence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Prof. Menachem Klein of Bar-Ilan University said that while Kerry has managed to get Netanyahu to agree to some concessions that may help to build trust or hope among Palestinians, he doubted that Kerry has both the knowledge and time to break the deadlock in the negotiations.

"I don't think that Kerry and President Obama have a strategy, I doubt if they have a good team that is well experienced, very well educated and have an institutional memory of the very long peace process. I don't get any signal that this is the case," Klein said.

Formal Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiation has been going on for nearly two decades, yet as incited by preconditions instead of the parties moving closer to reaching an agreement, both sides have added new issues to the already complicated situation.

Klein added that "what we need are very new ideas going beyond Oslo, a new framework for the peace process. If we continue to walk on this road we will come to the same nowhere that we are at today."

In addition to new ideas, a renewed level of American involvement is needed if there is to be any chance of that talks moving forward, as the failure during the first freeze clearly showed.

While Kerry said that he would be back in the region after the new initiatives had been announced in Washington, there are questions if Kerry will have the time to focus on the peace process as there are a number of more pressing issues which call for his attention, such as the crisis on the Korean Peninsula and the crisis in Syria.

Posted in: Mid-East

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