Tales from the Trail

Mideast peace veterans and handshake diplomacy

September 2, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly referred to them as “veterans” of the Middle East peace process.

That description is probably one thing everyone can agree on. The process to bring Israelis and Palestinians to a lasting peace agreement has been going on for decades and every U.S. president hopes he’s the one who will finally achieve what those before him tried and failed. PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/

President Barack Obama is the latest to take up the baton. He’s already won the Nobel Peace Prize, but will he be The One to triumph on Middle East Peace?

“We are under no illusions,” Obama said on Wednesday when he met with leaders ahead of today’s talks. “Passions run deep. Each side has legitimate and enduring interests. Years of mistrust will not disappear overnight.”

That last sentence is another thing that probably everyone can agree on.

But if the Israeli-Palestinian leaders’ handshakes over the years are any kind of indicator, perhaps there is a glimmer of hope.

Seventeen years ago in September 1993, President Bill Clinton practically forced Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to shake hands at the White House while observers held their collective breath wondering will they or won’t they?

No nudges needed this week, the handshakes flowed.

PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/Before Wednesday evening’s White House dinner, my colleague Jeff Mason who was in the East Room observed that when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to his seat from the podium, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in the process of standing up when they had a lingering handshake.

When it came time for Abbas to return from the podium, he and Netanyahu had another brief, cordial handshake. And while they were seated, Netanyahu was observed whispering in Abbas’ ear, showing a smidgeon of rapport between the leaders.

This morning at the State Department, my colleague Jeffrey Heller tells me that both leaders shook hands and engaged in animated conversation for a few moments in what appeared to be a relaxed atmosphere.

Perhaps in addition to breaking bread, some ice was broken at last night’s dinner…

Photo credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn (top) and Jim Young (combination photo of Bill Clinton, Rabin, and Arafat, contrasted with Hillary Clinton, Netanyahu and Abbas), Reuters/Jim Young (Netanyahu and Abbas at White House ), Reuters/Jason Reed (Netanyahu and Abbas reach to shake hands in front of Clinton)

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

where is the rest of the article? Did I miss the point? Or was this just a feel good article with a plug for the peace price and some clintons posing with handshakes?

Posted by BHOlied | Report as abusive
 

Too many human lives have been sacrificed for a peace which was all the time at the door step, but both the party pretended to be blind and acted to have overlooked it, not only that the broker of peace were but fake the worst was the Ex-President who ensured one side to go on a killing spree.

For some Peace was a desert mirage. For some it is God gifted. Particularly to those who respected what God asked humankind to obey and do even amidst obstruction and threats.

There will always be devils to divert people set to make deal for peace. It all depends on sincerity and determination to stick to belief on God particularly when both the party is of God gifted sister religious followers. Both these people have their own homegrown enemies who are averse to any peace between them.

Those who are trying to obstruct the peace can be dealt with with the support of God Almighty Himself later but first get the peace to enter the home and then together get the obstructionist never to be devilish again.

Posted by KINGFISHER | Report as abusive
 

Its gona be the same opera over again..

Posted by Suhaib | Report as abusive
 

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