Analysts divided on chances of success for peace talks

( – Our partners from Terrasanta carried this story, entitled, “Mixed Prognoses for Success of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks” on August 2, 2013.  

In a bid to keep up the momentum for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, U.S. President Barack Obama separately called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday.

Talks brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have resumed in Washington between the two counterparts after a three-year lull. The Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have given themselves around nine months to reach an agreement on ending the more than six decade conflict.

Analysts are divided on the chances of success, some arguing that the likelihood is small, while others see some kind of agreement as feasible, albeit an imperfect one. Mr. Kerry has said that while he understands the scepticism of reaching a solution, he doesn’t share it.

Both sides are negotiating a two-state solution, in which Israel would exist peacefully and safely alongside a new Palestinian state created in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – lands occupied by Israel after 1967. The previous talks collapsed in late 2010 over Israel’s building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

In his telephone conversation Thursday, President Obama commended Mr. Netanyahu for his leadership and courage in resuming the talks, according to a White House statement. To both leaders, he underscored that the parties have much work to do in the months ahead, but have the full support of the United States in their efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace based on the two state solution.

A second round of talks is expected by the middle of August.

Mr. Kerry said Israel had taken unspecified steps to ease the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, according to Reuters. However, the substance of the talks is shrouded in secrecy.

Tzipi Livni, Israeli’s chief negotiator has said the talks will be “hard” but that Israel will endeavour to “create solutions and make decisions for the future” rather than argue about the past. Some analysts say Israel is motivated by an unwillingness to drift into isolation, a likely outcome should these talks fail.

Sceptics also argue that a U.S. Secretary of State is only as effective as the president wants him to be, and that President Obama is more concerned about the domestic U.S. economy and extricating the United States from wars in the Middle East than oft-abandoned peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Both the Palestinians and Israelis face opposition to the talks from within their own ranks and coalition partners.