Tuesday, August 31, 2010

U.S. sees Washington peace talks as start of year-long process.

Both the Obama administration and the Palestinian Prime Minister are talking very similar timetables for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Obama crowd state:

"While the parameters of an ultimate, comprehensive peace agreement are well known, we do not expect to achieve peace in one meeting," State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.

"But I think we want to see the launch of a vigorous process that will involve significant involvement by the leaders themselves, as well as regular interaction with their respective negotiating teams, including the full participation of the United States, supported by other countries in the region and around the world," he added. Crowley said that the administration thinks it can reach agreement "within a one-year time frame."
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is saying roughly the same thing:

The Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad yesterday unveiled a detailed blueprint for completing the independent state he insisted would be ready in 2011 if Israel lived up to its "moment of reckoning" in the coming weeks of negotiations.

Fayyad identified what he sees as the key to whether or not the talks will be successful or not.

He added that the talks would have to answer questions such as "What kind of state does Mr Netanyahu have in mind when he says 'Palestinian state'"?

"I think this is a most fundamental question," he went on. "I believe, without wishing to really prejudge what will happen in the next few days, the next few weeks, we are approaching that moment of reckoning."

That really is crucial to what happens next. I personally think Netanyahu only used that phrase to appease Obama. I see no way for the right wing coalition he leads to arrive at any compromise which would be acceptable to the Palestinians.

And yet, both the Obama camp and the Palestinians are talking of an agreement being reached within a year.

That puzzles me. Where does this optimism come from? On what is it based? Do they seriously think that Netanyahu is going to concede and give them back the West Bank?

Even Netanyahu is talking of the possibility of peace.

"I am not naive. I see all the difficulties and hurdles and despite this, I believe that a final peace agreement is a reachable objective. Of course, this does not depend just on us," he said on Monday.

Maybe I am simply the worst cynic on the planet, but I can't envision any peace deal which Netanyahu could plausibly sell to a government dominated by pro-settler parties, including his own. With that in mind, I simply don't get where all this optimism is coming from.

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