Saving the peace talks from failure

The current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are doomed to fail.  I say this with great certainty despite some voices who express a measure of optimism. Why?

  • The wrong parties are at the negotiating table.
  • The wrong mediator is sitting at the negotiating table.
  • The negotiating table is located in the wrong room.

Tzipi Livni (Israel), Saeb Erekat (Palestine), and Martin Indyk (mediator) are the wrong people to be negotiating the future of Israel and Palestine.

The mediator that John Kerry appointed, Indyk, is a former AIPAC employee who would be more suited to polishing Netanyahu’s shoes.

Livni served in Israel’s war cabinet during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza (Dec. ’08 – Jan. ’09) killing more than 1,400 Palestinians (a majority of them civilians and more than 300 children). Livni told the press later that year that “Operation Cast Lead was necessary …. there is no need to reach an agreement with Hamas.”

Erekat is likely the best person to represent the Palestinian Authority, but he doesn’t have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians in Gaza who support Hamas, or the Palestinians in the diaspora, or the Palestinians who have lost faith in the PA. Check out his impressive resume here. Erekat comes to the table realizing that his Palestinian Authority may not survive if these peace talks fail, a conflicted position to be in as he negotiates the future of the State of Palestine.

The negotiating table is tragically in the wrong place. No less than an act of breathtaking temerity for President Obama to even suggest that the United States host these talks. Check out the US vetoes in the Security Council.

A lasting and just peace will never be found using the same old strategies that have failed in the past and will fail again this time. Something needs to shake up the status quo.

My proposal for peace talks can be found here, maybe a bit of a stretch, I admit.

Both Livni and Erekat have alot at stake in the current process. Failure will hurt both sides, but the media will certainly spin it as the fault of the Palestinians. So the question becomes “how to save the doomed peace talks?”

  • Obama must certainly realize that his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was prematurely bestowed. He might retroactively earn some points by engaging in this peace process personally. He should send Martin Indyk packing immediately.
  • He should place a conference call to Netanyahu and Abbas, and with both men on the line, Obama needs to advise them that US foreign policy has changed vis-à-vis Hamas.  See here. The future of the region cannot be negotiated by ignoring this elephant in the room.
  • Obama should spell out the new agenda for the peace talks — how to bring Hamas into the process, end the siege of Gaza, and make definite plans for the next Palestinian elections to be held post-haste.
  • If either Netanyahu or Abbas object to this new agenda, they can walk away from the table.  Obama will take responsibility for speaking to the press, explaining the change in the agenda, and absolving everyone from fault or responsibility.
  • Obama will invite Abbas and Haniyeh to a meeting at the United Nations in New York. He will request that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon preside over the meeting(s) with the goal that a unity agreement can be reached between Fatah and Hamas.

This sounds fantastical?  No greater fantasy than continuing to pursue the same old “peace talks” that haven’t worked in 20+ years.



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Filed under People, Politics, United Nations, US Policy

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