An iftar dinner which usually signifies end of fasting and starting of eating time for Muslims during the Holy Month of Ramadan was chosen by the US Sec. of State John Kerry as the kick-off event for a Mideast Peace Negotiations in Washington on Monday night. Two sides represented by very experienced negotiators and political players Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat helped by the Ambassador Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel, will start working on procedural elements of the negotiations process. This as I wrote previously here comes as a result of a very engaged shuffle diplomacy effort by the Secretary Kerry over the last few weeks waking hopes that final peace could be achieved.
Many will point out this new start of negotiations comes after three years hiatus, but I would like advocate otherwise. This comes after 20 years of effective hiatus because since 1993 and Oslo Peace Accord signed by late Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. Since then we didn’t saw any particular improvements due to oppositions on both sides. While Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas fought his battles with radicals from Hamas, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu beside his own objections to other side proposals has faced very strong opposition from ultra/orthodox Israelis who didn’t always supported his or his predecessors ideas. Intifadas, settlements, wars and individual suicidal actions or case of Gilad Shalit who was abducted by Palestinians since 2006 (released in 2011) were just few of those elements which helped to stop negotiations from moving ahead.
So what to expect now from this round? Despite having John Kerry and Martin Indyk at the helm of negotiations I’m not overoptimistic when it comes to potential results. Why? Reason is simple Livni and Erekat were on previous teams since God knows when and all of those broke down without results or if any agreement was reached never become reality. Compromise is a key word in this process, in Mideast never worked, in a case of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Kosovo negotiations some worked some didn’t and those were also lead by United States in late 1990’s or early 2000’s. Following Sec. Kerry words directly implying that and showing how though this is gonna be. This process is put in a initial frame of nine months in which sides should decide if they can reach agreement but a question is what role will be played by the United States and how they will impact this process, more important is what role and how strong involvement will be of Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas as leaders of the groups in process?
“Going forward, it’s no secret that this is a difficult process. If it were easy, it would have happened a long time. It’s no secret, therefore, that many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional, and symbolic issues. I think reasonable compromises has to be a keystone of all of this effort. I know the negotiations are going to be tough, but I also know that the consequences of not trying could be worse” said on Monday Sec. Kerry.
If anything comes from this process I would be one of the happiest people in the world because I know what means to live in a state of permanent war, political instability and desperate wish to move forward but inability to reach it due to either political or global impact on your life.
I hope that Sec. Kerry and Amb. Indyk will succeed to put Livni and Erekat in proper place to do proper work, also I hope that radicals on both sides will be willing to accept any potential agreement reached by political representatives. If this doesn’t happen chances are slim, almost equal to nothing.