Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Hopeless or Hopeful?
The trilateral summit tomorrow at the United Nations in New York will be the first time the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president will be meeting since the suspension of peace talks last December, but nobody’s waiting with bated breath. According to our latest article, the inability to reach an agreement on a settlement freeze and Israelis and Palestinians accusing each other for the lack of efforts to revive peace negotiations, continue to be the bumps in the road to peace. (Read our FACTBOX about Israel’s settlements.)
After the U.S. envoy George Mitchell’s week-long shuttle diplomacy ended last week without obvious result. He had attempted to break the negotiation deadlock between the two sides, any chance of bringing three leaders together for dialogue – albeit “without preconditions” and promise for resumption of negotiations – should seem to be an occasion worth anticipating. (Read more of our coverage here.) Israeli newspapers, however, were not encouraged, calling the summit “the flight to nowhere” and projecting it would be “solely symbolic”.
Prominent Israeli commentator Nahum Barnea called the trilateral summit “not a meeting; not even half a meeting,” and “a joke at the expense of an American president who tried to get involved in Mideast politics and was stung”.
Avi Issacharoff in a news analysis for Israel’s left-leaning Haaretz, called the summit “a much sought-after photo-op” for the Obama administration:
“… Three leaders shaking hands, seemingly getting back to negotiations. This would come against the backdrop of the White House’s resounding failure to force Israel’s agreement to a complete settlement freeze or to persuade Arab states to make even tentative steps toward normalization with Israel, so a picture of the three leaders together will look like an extraordinary achievement,” wrote Issacharoff. “It might even help Obama and his administration to get the stalled peace process moving, however slowly.”
We have listed the factors to watch from Israel and the Palestinians here.
What do you think the expectations are, if any, for the Obama summit?
(PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington May 28, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)