Perhaps we’ve been hoping for too much already, like some kind of heartwarming throwback to this picture of Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein having a celebratory smoke in 1994, but while we waited with baited breath to catch a glimpse of Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat playing a game of cornhole on the South Lawn, the rest of the universe is conspiring to make the renascent (pre) peace talks difficult.
In a continuation of yesterday’s theme, a rocket from Gaza struck southern Israel yesterday, landing in a field without any reported injury or damage. Hamas in Gaza, in case the rocket didn’t make it clear, is not a fan of the resumption of peace talks or any talks or any peace. You might call this a very destructive way of acting out.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the gestation period for a comprehensive peace deal would be nine months and that all the thorny issues would be up for discussion.
“The parties have agreed here today that all of the final-status issues, all of the core issues, and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation,” Kerry remarked from the Benjamin Franklin room.
All of the core issues? And how would those who oppose any peace negotiation (and haven’t got any rockets handy) construe this declaration?
Jerusalem is on the table
— Dani Dayan (@dandayan) July 30, 2013
So Jerusalem is on the table now. Would enthusiasm for this development carry the day in the West Bank? Not so much.
Coverage of the event in Palestinian media was minimal; with laconic accounts of firm American and relative Israeli optimism, taken from Western news agencies, leading in both official PA dailies Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah. Palestinian statements could hardly be found, and officials were unwilling to discuss negotiations with The Times of Israel.
Meanwhile, various accounts of the diplomatic goings on pointed to a sweeping idea that the peace talks weren’t about peace. By entering talks, the United States and Israel would seemingly avoid a potentially messy showdown in the United Nations where the Palestinians, emboldened by the enhanced status granted them last year, could have pursued full recognition in the fall. As a White House official noted yesterday:
“The Palestinians throughout the course of this year have been making clear that if they couldn’t see progress on the peace front, that their intention would be to seek other elevations of their status, whether at the UN or other international organizations.”
What do the Palestinians (or perhaps more specifically, the Palestinian Authority) get out of this? Well, continued financial support from the United States. And possibly more. During their visit to the White House, both the Israeli and Palestinian delegations received letters of reassurance from the President, the contents of which have not been revealed.
As Kerry remarked yesterday, “There is no shortage of passionate skeptics.” The internet did not disappoint. For more on that, check out Noah Pollak’s takedown of Obama peace envoy Martin Indyk or this roundly denied story about a secret deal on settlements between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partner the Jewish Home.
For something good, enjoy a rare note of optimism on the topic from David Horovitz.