Egypt's health ministry using app, drug deliveries to follow up with coronavirus patients isolating at home    Ethiopia passes supplementary budget to help absorb virus impact    New report alleges killings, mass detentions in Ethiopia    AC Milan president opposes plan to restart with Cup matches    Russian league to allow soccer fans in stadiums    UEFA to fasttrack competitions in one venue, says Getafe president    European head of WTO would be "wonderful" says EU trade chief    Sudan army officer dies, soldiers hurt in attack by Ethiopian militia: SUNA    'It's like a return to life', despite an empty auditorium: Paris orchestra plays Strauss in COVID-19 era    South Korea seeks to import anti-viral remdesivir as new virus cases emerge    Twitter attaches disclaimer to Trump's Minneapolis tweet for 'glorifying violence'    Ethiopia says it won't accept Egypt's ‘historic rights' to Nile water    Egypt's enemies try to discredit state's anti-pandemic efforts, achievements: Al-Sisi    Maait aims to turn Covid-19 plight into power to promote human resource development    Al-Sisi ratifies financial, technical cooperation agreements with Germany    Minneapolis mayor calls for arrest of police officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck    Spain says it will do all it can to reverse Nissan closure, workers protest    China approves Hong Kong security law as tensions with U.S. rise    Salah did not pressure administration to include players on team: Ghazal    Huawei CFO loses key court fight against extradition to US    UK PM Johnson to go to Brussels next month for Brexit talks    How did Egypt use the internet during Ramadan?    Egypt removes 484 illegal constructions and encroachments on Nile    Health Ministry urges retired medical staff to join coronavirus fray    173 illegal constructions on waterways in Damietta referred to military prosecution    MACIC celebrates World Day for Cultural Diversity with webinar    Grand Museum receives 346 artefacts from Old, Middle Kingdoms    Unique late Ancient Egyptian cemetery discovered in Minya Governorate    European football set to restart despite coronavirus    Budget airlines put squeeze on airports in coronavirus cost drive    Afrobeat, rap, house and more: Apple Music is launching its first radio show in Africa    Book Review: Power on the Nature of Power    AfDB approves $500,000 in emergency coronavirus pandemic aid for Egypt    Egypt's stock Exchange back to regular trading hours on Sunday    Dubai government offices to resume work with 50% employees next Sunday, 100% on June 14    Disney unveils plans to reopen in mid-July    WHO: There is no evidence hydroxychloroquine helps treat coronavirus    Egypt confirms record jump of 910 coronavirus cases on Wednesday    Sisi congratulates Egyptians on occasion of Eid Al-Fitr    Egypt's Sisi congratulates Egyptians on the occasion of Eid El-Fitr    Egypt's interior ministry gives gifts to families of policemen killed or injured in the line of duty    Egyptian police kill 21 terrorists who plotted attacks on Eid El-Fitr    Italy's football federation sets August 20 as deadline for finishing season    Egypt's decision to resume sports activities breathes life into hopes to restart league    Egyptian Premier League final decision to be taken before May-end: minister    Egypt's 12 MPs came into contact with coronavirus infected parliamentarian    iRead launches new activities, competitions to pread the passion for reading    British Council in Egypt makes its digital library for free amid coronavirus    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





Mideast talks reopen under tough conditions
Published in Daily News Egypt on 31 - 08 - 2010

RAMALLAH: The US relaunches Israeli-Palestinian talks this week, its third push over the past decade to solve one of the world's most intractable conflicts — and this time under some of the most difficult conditions yet.
The gaps are wider than ever, distrust between the two peoples runs deep and Hamas opposed to a peace deal control half of what would be a future Palestinian state.
There's almost no chance of a comprehensive agreement any time soon, given Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard stance on concessions to the Palestinians and President Mahmoud Abbas' weak position as representative of only half the Palestinians.
All the momentum is coming from President Barack Obama, who unlike Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, is tackling the issue early in his term and has already shown himself to be an energetic broker.
But even US officials concede they don't expect any major breakthroughs and say simply getting the two sides to agree to a second round of talks, followed by more frequent meetings, will be a success. US officials hope a follow-up round can be held in the region, likely in Egypt, in the second week of September.
"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 P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington on Monday.
He said the US hopes to launch vigorous talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and their teams of experts, with the "full participation" of the US and support from other countries.
Besides Netanyahu and Abbas, Obama is hosting Jordan's King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the White House on Wednesday. Negotiations are to begin Thursday, with the aim of hammering out the details of a Palestinian state alongside Israel within a year.
Despite that optimistic timetable, the first crisis is expected as early as next month, when Netanyahu has to decide whether to extend a 10-month freeze on Israeli settlement building on lands the Palestinians want for their state. Abbas has warned he'll quit the talks unless the freeze continues, but Netanyahu has so far made no commitments.
Even if that first hurdle is cleared, negotiations can easily be disrupted by Abbas' main rival, the Islamic Hamas, or by Netanyahu's far-right coalition partners.
Hamas, which has run Gaza since a violent takeover in 2007, could resume rocket fire on Israel to try to derail talks. Israeli hard-liners could quit the government to put the brakes on Netanyahu, either forcing time-consuming new elections or a coalition reshuffle.
But the biggest obstacles remain the wide gaps between Abbas and Netanyahu, and Hamas' entrenchment in Gaza.
"I don't believe there are real prospects for an agreement in one or two years," said former Israeli negotiator Yossi Beilin.
"You have an Israeli leader who is not ready, unless there is a very big shift in his ideology, to pay the ... minimal price the most pragmatic Palestinian leader is demanding," Beilin said.
Even if a deal is struck, Beilin said, Abbas could not implement it without first regaining control of Gaza, at this point an impossible task.
Relaunching the negotiations under such conditions is fraught with risk.
The breakdown of Clinton's Mideast summit in 2000 led to years of Israeli-Palestinian violence, and it took Bush seven years to try to bring the sides together again. Those talks broke off in late 2008 on the eve of Israel's three-week war on Hamas in Gaza.
Still, the contours of an agreement have remained largely unchanged since they were first sketched by Clinton in 2000.
Under this blueprint, a Palestinian state would be established in most of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.
Israel would keep some of the largest settlements it built on occupied land, while compensating the Palestinians with a land swap. Jerusalem would be partitioned along ethnic lines and Palestinian refugees would largely resettle in a future Palestine, not in Israel.
The framework is far closer to what Abbas wants than what Netanyahu has said he is willing to give. However, in a strange reversal, the Palestinian leader had to be dragged to the table, while the Israeli prime minister insisted from the start he was eager to negotiate.
Underlying Abbas' reluctance is the fear that Netanyahu is not serious about reaching an agreement, and that the Israeli leader wants the cover of drawn-out negotiations to grab more land for Israel by expanding settlements, already home to nearly 500,000 Israelis in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Aides say Abbas only relented because he didn't want to anger Obama and because US officials assured him Obama has a clear vision of what a final deal should look like.
Netanyahu has not unveiled a detailed peace proposal. Instead, he offered a belated endorsement of the idea of Palestinian statehood — but has not said how much land he would be willing to give up. He also insists Israel keep east Jerusalem, the Palestinians' intended capital.
Netanyahu, who for years led the struggle against his predecessors' peace efforts, has left Israelis guessing about whether he is now ready to help give birth to a Palestinian state — or is simply trying to appease both Obama and his hard-line allies at home in hopes of staying in power.
The Israeli leader has made some gestures to the Palestinians in the past year — easing restrictions on Palestinian movement that allowed for a modest economic recovery and slowing the pace of settlement activity.
Yet Netanyahu, head of the nationalist Likud Party, has refused to pick up negotiations where they left off under his predecessor, Ehud Olmert.
Addressing Likud members before his departure for Washington, Netanyahu said Monday that only his party has the credentials to deliver a peace deal that protects Israel's security interests, just as it forged Israel's historic peace agreement with Egypt three decades ago.
"True peace is not a short break between wars, it's not a short break between terror attacks. True peace is something that persists dozens of years, that stands well for generations," he said.
Netanyahu's intentions will become clearer when the settlement freeze ends Sept. 26.
Many in Likud are pushing for a resumption of construction and it's unlikely Netanyahu will go against their wishes, said Zeev Elkin, a Likud legislator. "He made it clear ... that he is going with the party members, not against them," Elkin told Israel Army Radio.
Abbas faces his own domestic troubles.
Over the weekend, Khalil Al-Haya, a leading Hamas figure in Gaza, threatened the negotiators, warning the Islamic group will "step on the necks of those who will give up our rights in Jerusalem and the rights of our refugees."
However, Hamas routinely sends conflicting messages, and it's not clear if the latest threats mean Hamas has canceled a previous understanding with Abbas to allow him to negotiate without interference, provided he submits any deal to a referendum.
Skepticism about the negotiations is also widespread in the Abbas-run West Bank. He tried to assure his constituents in a televised address late Sunday that he would quit the talks if settlement construction resumes.
Hanan Ashrawi, a former negotiator, said the public has become disillusioned because with each failed round, Israeli settlements kept growing.
"The whole thing has been manipulated to become a process without substance or credibility," she said.
In Israel, the negotiations have been met with indifference.
"We've been there so many times, and nothing comes out of it," said Israeli author Tom Segev.
Many Israelis believe they don't have a reliable Palestinian partner for peace, in part because they perceive Abbas as weak.
The Geneva Initiative, an Israeli-Palestinian group of former officials and negotiators who have come up with a detailed peace plan, tried to change that with a new PR campaign this week.
Palestinian officials recorded brief video clips aimed at the Israeli public. "I'm your partner," said Jibril Rajoub, a former West Bank security chief, speaking in Hebrew. "I think there is a historic opportunity, for us and for you." –Associated Press writers Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem, Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


Clic here to read the story from its source.