Sunday, August 22, 2010

The negotiations are dead, long live the negotiations ...

So the big news about Israel internationally is the announcement that direct peace talks between us and the Palestinians are set to resume. This news flash was greeted by the Israeli public with a loud and resounding "meh."
Indifference to the peace talks in Israel is rampant, and expectations for a peace agreement are close to zero. The New York Times has a great analysis of the significance of the talks, which to me have no significance.

I saw a statement from the Obama administration that they believe an agreement can be reached within a year. This seems to me either insanely optimistic, or simply bluster meant to pretty up what is in reality a measly foreign policy victory.

Stating that peace is possible within a year is also a great way to doom the talks to failure. Any agreement that could be reached within a year would likely be rejected by the Israeli public. There is simply no way that the serious and substantive differences between the two sides can be breached in a year, if ever. Stating that peace is possible within a year sets unrealistic expectations, and guarantees that the talks will be looked at in some way as a failure.

I heard recently perhaps the best summary of the Israeli view on the negotiations from my girlfriend quoting her father. His perspective:
Israel has been negotiating over one soldier for more than four years now, and still hasn't reached an agreement. How are we ever going to negotiate peace?

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