A Mideast Peace 'Bridge' Too Far?

U.S. Compromises May Not Spur Sides To Reach Deal

Bridge to Nowhere? With Mideast peace talks foundering, John Kerry may soon present U.S. ‘bridging proposals’ to move the process forward. An informed scorecard says it might not do much good.
getty images
Bridge to Nowhere? With Mideast peace talks foundering, John Kerry may soon present U.S. ‘bridging proposals’ to move the process forward. An informed scorecard says it might not do much good.

By Yossi Alpher

Published December 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A few weeks ago, President Barack Obama revealed that the current objective of American-led Israeli-Palestinian talks about a two-state solution is a “framework agreement.” This document, he explained, would not “address every single detail, but gets us to a point where everybody recognizes [that it is] better to move forward than [to] move backwards.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the same Saban Forum, in Washington, noted that a framework agreement “will have to address all the core issues” and be able to lead to a “full-on peace treaty.”

Judging by the West Bank security plan presented recently to the two sides by Kerry and John Allen, a retired Marine Corps general, Washington might come forward with bridging proposals as it becomes clear that the framework agreement essentially defines the gaps between the two sides’ positions on each key issue. According to some reports, it will do so in late January, regardless of the status of the framework agreement.

There is no assurance, and probably little likelihood, that the current negotiations will get anywhere substantial. But suppose they do. Suppose Israeli settlement activitiy doesn’t cause negotiations to collapse, and that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Palestine Liberation Organization, led by Mahmoud Abbas, cooperate in the “framework agreement” venture.

Based on long years of monitoring the Israeli, Palestinian and American positions on all the final-status issues, we can speculate as to what the gaps in a framework agreement might conceivably look like, what the resultant American bridging proposals might contain and how the parties might react.

Security: Israel wants a virtually open-ended presence of the Israel Defense Forces in the Jordan Valley, at West Bank-Jordan border crossings and at early warning stations in the West Bank. The PLO would accept an international security presence but no Israelis. Here the United States has already submitted a bridging proposal for a territorially limited Israeli presence whose duration beyond 10 years would depend on Palestinian compliance with security demands. The PLO has rejected it, and Israel wants modifications.

Prediction: A compromise can be found.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • 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.