U.S. Makes Last Ditch Effort To Save Peace Talks

Both Sides Failed To Live Up To Promises

A protest erupts outside an Israeli prison in the West Bank. Israel went back on a promise to release 26 prisoners.
getty images
A protest erupts outside an Israeli prison in the West Bank. Israel went back on a promise to release 26 prisoners.

By Reuters

Published April 07, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

U.S. efforts to save Middle East peace talks from collapse showed little sign of progress on Monday amid threats from Israel to retaliate for what it saw as unilateral Palestinian moves towards statehood.

The U.S.-brokered negotiations plunged into crisis last week after Israel, demanding a Palestinian commitment to continue talking after the end of the month, failed to carry out a promised release of about two dozen Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded by signing 15 global treaties, including the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war and occupations, on behalf of the State of Palestine, a defiant move that surprised Washington and angered Israel.

Both sides met on Sunday night “to discuss ways to overcome the crisis in the talks,” a U.S. official told Reuters. Palestinian sources said they would meet again Monday evening.

The wrangling attracted little interest on the streets, where both Israeli and Palestinians have become inured to decades of conflict and deadlock.

With the approach of the Jewish holiday of Passover, Israel’s best-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, focused its main headline on the plight of the poor - carrying a report on Sunday’s talks at the bottom of page six.

Fewer than 20 Israeli lawmakers showed up for a special debate on the peace process on Monday in the 120-seat Knesset.

“We’re all too busy worrying about how to pay bills. Prices have risen and there are very few jobs,” said Tareq Younes, a Palestinian barber from a village near the West Bank city Ramallah.

“RETALIATORY MEASURES”

The peace talks, which began in July, have stalled over Palestinian opposition to Israel’s demand that it be recognised as a Jewish state, and over settlements built on occupied land Palestinians seek for a country of their own.

An Israeli official described the Sunday meeting as “business-like” without elaborating. A Palestinian official said his side had submitted conditions for extending the talks beyond the original April 29 deadline for a peace deal.

Palestinians have said the signing of the international treaties last week was a natural progression after the U.N. General Assembly’s de facto recognition of a Palestinian state in 2012.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a cabinet meeting on Sunday, promised retaliatory measures - which he did not specify - in response to the signings.

A senior official in Abbas’s Fatah party, said the Palestinians wanted a written commitment from Netanyahu’s government recognising a Palestinian state within all of the territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel has described those West Bank borders as indefensible and considers East Jerusalem as part of its capital, a claim that is not recognised internationally. Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, now ruled by Hamas Islamists, in 2005.

In addition, the Fatah official said, Palestinians were demanding a cessation of settlement activity and a prisoner release.

Palestinians fear settlements, viewed as illegal by most countries, will deny them a viable state and have condemned a series of Israeli construction projects announced while talks have been under way.

Stung by his diplomatic setback, just as a complex deal for the negotiations’ extension was emerging, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said the United States was evaluating whether to continue its role in the talks, accusing both sides of taking unhelpful steps.

A monthly peace index, last published in March by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, found 69 percent of Israelis “somewhat don’t believe” or “don’t believe at all” that the negotiations will lead to peace.

A poll conducted last month in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research showed that about three-quarters of those surveyed believed chances for establishing a Palestinian state in the next five years are “slim or non-existent”.


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!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • 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.