Monday, July 29, 2013

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

First, please see my thoughts from earlier this month on why conservatives should support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will commence in Washington DC later today. Though many were suspicious of John Kerry's pursuit of these talks, their occurrence proves that peace is always a worthy pursuit. Of course, the negotiations face many challenges. President Abbas remains handicapped by a Hamas governing authority in Gaza which continues to reject Israel's right to exist. Prime Minister Netanyahu leads a coalition which, at least in part, is made up of politicians who see no merit in the peace process. Charismatic newcomer, Naftali Bennett, provides one such example. However, regardless of the difficulty, peace is certainly worth a try. Ultimately, following yesterday's referendum approval, Israelis will have to grant assent to a final deal. In this sense, there's no harm in talking.
             As the parties meet in DC, much of the negotiations will focus on the seemingly intractable issues - the future of Jerusalem and the prospective contours of the West Bank. Yet, Netanyahu's decision to release over a hundred Palestinian prisoners illustrates his commitment to the serious pursuit of peace. Some have suggested that Netanyahu is playing a game here - doing just enough to satisfy the US, but in reality, unwilling to make major sacrifices for peace. I disagree. Netanyahu is no game player. Israelis know that and they trust him for it. Releasing the prisoners was a bold and courageous move and one for which Netanyahu is already paying a significant political price. Now President Abbas will have to meet the Israeli leader's endeavor with his own courage. From here on in, reciprocity will be key.

As I argued in The Guardian a few weeks back, John Kerry deserves much credit for his role in making this meeting happen. While it's likely that the days ahead will bring many criticisms, this effort is nonetheless deserving of support.

For a selection of my other thoughts on Middle Eastern related security issues, please click here.

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