What to Think of the Talks, Part 2

[tweetmeme] To continue from where I left off yesterday, there are many opinions concerning the newest round of direct negotiations – mostly, perhaps, pessimistic. Al Jazeera‘s Empire recently hosted a round table discussion with John Mearsheimer, Robert Malley and Nabil Shaath.  While Shaath is pushing a more hopeful realism, the other two commentators strongly believe that the talks are nothing but a sham.  Take a look (hat tip to Pulse):

After a two year deadlock and 17 years of failure, Washington has relaunched direct peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And both parties have agreed to keep talking, in the hope of reaching a final agreement.

For some, US renewed sponsorship of direct talks this week is a major step towards peace. They argue that as the leader of the free world, the US has the moral and geopolitical responsibility, as well as the political and strategic proximity to broker peace in the Middle East.

Their detractors reckon that the US-sponsored peace process is the continuation of war through other means, not only in Palestine, but throughout the region, where the US and its closest ally Israel use the peace process to cover up their strategic follies and expand their regional interests. They claim that the influence of the Israel lobby in Washington, coupled with US wars in the greater Middle East, renders the US a dishonest broker that succumbs to the Israeli agenda at the expense of Palestinian rights.

And here lies the paradox facing many of America’s partners and allies who are eager for its activism but sceptical of its judgment.

Whilst Washington’s management, of the diplomatic process over the last 17 years has had its share of critics, Arab and Muslim attachment to Palestine, coupled with its international symbolism as the last colonial occupation, have ensured that this cause remains crucial to regional stability and on top of the American and the global agenda. And an increasing number of US generals and politicians believe that resolving the Palestinian issue is important to the US’ own national security in light of its wars and occupation in the greater Middle East.

As Israelis and Palestinians take the first step of a one-year journey to reach a final agreement, we ask: What will it take to reach the Promised Land? And is the US willing, or able, to do what it takes to make peace possible?

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