Smoke and Mirrors: The “New” Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

This piece originally appeared at LobeLog

The so-called “renewed” Israel-Palestine peace process is turning out to be nothing more than an illusion, as many observers from

Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat flanking John Kerry at the kickoff of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat flanking John Kerry at the kickoff of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

across the political spectrum expected. But the United States is apparently intent on blowing more smoke to maintain that hallucination as long as possible. And the Palestinian Authority, typically, is falling into a trap.

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s idea to keep a tight lid on the proceedings was a good one if talks lead somewhere. If they don’t, the aggrieved side is likely to head to the media to air their grievances, feeling that the process is not getting them where they want and that public pressure is their only option. Doing so, however, will surely anger the United States and open the door for the party causing the leaks to end up with the lion’s share of the blame for the talks’ failure.

Amid reports of deep Palestinian dissatisfaction with the way the talks are going, the US seems to be offering the public the same long-view analysis that they did months ago. Not commenting on what is actually taking place between the Israelis and Palestinians in their discussions, a senior State Department official offered the view that the turmoil in Syria and Egypt is spurring the two sides toward compromise. Continue reading

Israeli-Palestinian Talks Are Quietly Foundering

This piece was originally published at LobeLog

If John Kerry wants to find a silver lining in the heavy criticism US foreign policy has faced due to the events in both Egypt and Syria, he Israel-Palestine-Kerry-Indyk-620x350might find it in, of all places, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The secretary of state embarked on the talks by saying there would be no discussion of them in the media; that any reliable information about them would only come from him; and that he would not talk about them. Given the history of leaks in such talks and the widespread coverage generated by any negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, this seemed like a very ambitious promise. But amid an imminent attack on Syria after the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and the controversial, tacit US support for a coup in Egypt that turned out to be a lot more bloody than Washington probably expected, attention has been completely drawn away from the Israel-Palestine conflict. Continue reading