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!
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • 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?
  • 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.