Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kerry's Pursuit of Mid-East Peace

Following in the footsteps of many former Secretaries of State, John Kerry is in the Middle East pursuing a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As usual, the task is significant. The Palestinian leadership remains divided between the ideological intransigents of Hamas in Gaza and the weak Fatah Government that sits in the West Bank. In Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu presides over a coalition cross-party cabinet that holds a variation of viewpoints on the shape that a peace deal could and should take.

Amidst these difficulties it's hard to stay positive. However, we shouldn't write this effort off just yet. Reports from Israel suggest that Netanyahu is newly willing to make serious compromises in the pursuit of peace. In addition, Netanyahu knows that he must at least placate President Obama if he's to receive continued support from the US re- a prospective strike against Iranian military facilities. Further, the Palestinian Authority knows that US support requires engagement with Israel (the US won't accept a unilateral rejection of negotiations). Finally, the major contours of an ultimate Israeli-Palestinian deal are already known: ultimately, a lasting deal is likely to situate around the basic foundations of a combination of Camp David 2000 and Olmert 2008. In this sense, though Kerry's trip is unlikely to provide an immediate breakthrough, it does offer the prospect of forward momentum in the right direction.

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