Monday, April 7, 2014

As Mideast Hopes Dim, Some Urge Scaling Back of Lofty Goals. By Nicholas Casey.

As Mideast Hopes Dim, Some Urge Scaling Back of Lofty Goals. By Nicholas Casey. The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2014.

John Kerry ruined what John Kerry built. By Ben-Dror Yemini. i24News, April 7, 2014.

Israel Has Few Options With Palestinians. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, April 9, 2014.

Why Netanyahu Won’t “Go Big.” By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, April 10, 2014.

Naftali Bennett calls on Netanyahu to annex 60% of West Bank. By Gil Hoffman. Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2014.


But with Secretary of State John Kerry’s declaration last week that the peace process needed a “reality check,” hopes of a grand bargain put forward when he kicked off his diplomacy nine months ago are being scaled back.
The difficulties in agreeing on a prisoner swap bode ill for tackling more complex issues that need to be resolved to reach a lasting peace. That has opened a discussion about constraining aspirations and urging U.S. mediators to accept the status quo while the two sides focus on ways to avoid any escalation in violence.
Former politicians and analysts propose that the most contentious issues that need to be resolved for a comprehensive peace, such as borders and security, would be left for after future elections. The two sides would continue official peace talks, allowing their U.S. ally to avoid failure on a long-standing foreign-policy goal.
“The gap between the most moderate position in Israel and the most moderate position in the Palestinian leadership is too far right now,” said Shlomo Avineri, a former director general of Israel’s foreign ministry. “It’s time for the U.S. to think of a contingency plan—treating this as a conflict-management situation.” His suggestion: treat the two governments like Kosovo or Cyprus, where adversaries never fully recognized each other, but modest agreements stopped the threat of another war.
A Final Status Agreement between Israelis and Palestinians—the wide-ranging deal that would settle everything from the location of borders and capitals to the right of return for Palestinians who lost their homes during Israel's creation in 1948—has remained elusive since the 1993 Oslo accords.
Achieving a deal now would require both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to be able to sell the agreement to hard-liners who threaten to bring down their respective governments if they go too far. Yet both sides must continue to negotiate with one another—Israel to avoid international isolation for its occupation of the West Bank, Palestinians so they can continue to receive international aid. The result is that both sides keep talking, but neither has incentive to reach a deal.
Yehuda Ben Meir, a former Israeli deputy foreign minister, said the U.S. has two options at this point.
“Either manage the conflict until the next elections, or walk away, and that would mean conflict, and wouldn’t be a viable option for them,” he said.
The most the two sides could agree upon in the near term might be what he called unilateral coordinated actions such as allowing Palestinians to control more land in parts of the West Bank now under Israeli control.