In Israel, Peace Talks Met With Skepticism

By Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Published November 28, 2007, issue of November 30, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Jerusalem - As the Annapolis conference kicked into high gear, one Israeli reporter chose a more modest urban backdrop: the southern Israeli town of Sderot, its streets deserted for fear of Qassam rocket attacks from the nearby Gaza.

“Residents here know that no matter what happens, in the end they get Qassams falling on their heads,” said Yinon Magal of Channel 10 when asked whether the people in Sderot seemed interested in the Annapolis peace summit.

For all the hopeful rhetoric in Maryland, back in the Middle East, distrust and hostility showed their deep roots.

In Gaza, thousands of demonstrators who turned out for a Hamas rally chanted: “Death to Israel. Death to the United States.” In Jerusalem, some 15,000 Israelis descended upon the Western Wall to pray for the Annapolis conference to fail.

But for many mainstream Israelis, Annapolis held little interest, mostly because they saw the politicians’ declarations as offering barely any new material after a string of similar summits in recent years.

“Annapolis is a long way away, in every sense,” Jerusalem taxi driver Elazar Cohen said. “Olmert and Abbas want to give it a try? Great. But I don’t know anyone who’s hopeful.”

On the front pages of Israeli newspapers, stories about Olmert’s aims at Annapolis competed with opinion pieces that played down any chances of a diplomatic breakthrough.

While some in the region were buoyed by last-minute decisions by Syria, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon to join the Annapolis conference, few Israelis or Palestinians said they expected peace to come soon.

A TV survey conducted after Tuesday’s speeches at Annapolis found that just 15% of Israelis now expect a breakthrough in peace efforts with the Palestinians. Sixty-two percent of respondents to the Channel 1 survey predicted there would be more diplomatic stalemate, accompanied by an escalation in terrorism.

With Gaza in Hamas’s hands, some Israeli analysts said Abbas’s goal at Annapolis was more limited than comprehensive peace.

“As far as Abu Mazen is concerned, this is a process for salvaging the West Bank,” said Ehud Yaari, a veteran Israeli analyst of Arab affairs, using Abbas’s nickname. In the West Bank, Abbas’s security forces responded violently to anti-Annapolis demonstrations, killing one, wounding dozens and arresting scores of Hamas sympathizers.

Throughout the conference on the other side of the Atlantic, Israel’s countermeasures against Palestinian terrorists continued apace. On Tuesday in Gaza, Israeli forces killed three Palestinians, at least two of them Hamas gunmen, and Gaza rocket crews fired at least one rocket at the Sderot area.






Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.