As Peace Talks Begin, Good Will In Short Supply

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Secretary of State John Kerry had promised that the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would be kept confidential, so that the negotiators could exchange ideas without being subject to pressure from extremists on each side until a package of mutual concessions was ready that could show each side what it received in return for what it gave away.

But as Round Two took place Wednesday night in a secret location somewhere in Jerusalem with no Americans present, following the late-night release, at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, of the first 26 Palestinian prisoners, the process is so secretive that it’s set off its own wave of speculation about the low level of shared trust, good will and faith in the outcome.

Avi Issacharoff, the former Maariv military analyst who now writes for the online Walla! News, writes (in Hebrew) that any possible pride either side might take in what should be a hopeful event is overshadowed on both sides by the humiliation of what they’ve already had to give away — for Israel’s Netanyahu, releasing prisoners with blood on their hands in the face of widespread popular outrage, and for Palestinian leader Abbas, resuming negotiations without an Israeli settlement freeze and in fact amid a much ballyhooed wave of new construction plans. Issacharoff writes:

In fact, according to Alex Fishman, the veteran Yediot Ahronot military analyst, writing at Yediot’s Ynet website, Netanyahu turned the supposed goodwill gesture of a prisoner release into another opportunity to humiliate Abbas by picking a list of low-level thugs to release, and then sending half of them to Gaza instead of to the West Bank where Abbas could have arranged a festive reception to reap the credit.

Tel Aviv University political scientist Reuven Pedatzur, a Haaretz military analyst, complains that the fate of Israel and the region is dependent entirely on one person, Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Pedatzur writes that Bibi is operating in a solitary isolation that’s unusual even for Israel, where prime ministers traditionally make major decisions on their own. All of the senior officials that he used to rely on for advice have left him, leaving him with a bureau of relatively inexperienced aides. His inner circle of senior ministers with long experience in diplomatic and military affairs, like Dan Meridor, Benny Begin and Ehud Barak, has been replaced by the likes of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, who have none.

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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As Peace Talks Begin, Good Will In Short Supply

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