As talks between Israelis and Palestinians have reached a stalemate in recent days, Israel is working to reverse the trend. Reports indicate that the Middle-Eastern nation is trying to work with the United states to prevent a peace collapse.
As it stands now, there is an April 29 deadline that is looming for Palestinians and Israelis to come to some sort of agreement. However, with tangible peace seemingly out of the picture for now, Israel has instead offered to extend the deadline to keep diplomacy afloat. The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has yet to reply to the offer, though the PA has acknowledged that he is reviewing it.
These developments come after the two factions have been butting heads over the release of some Palestinian prisoners. As a key point in the US-brokered peace plan, Israel was required to free some 23 individuals, some of whom the Israelis claim are terrorists. As a result of this claim, Israel has demanded that a condition be put on the prospective release. Negotiators for the Jewish State have argued that for that measure to move forward, Palestinians must commit themselves to extending the negotiation period.
Paradoxically, Palestine has countered by saying that they will refuse any extension of negotiations until the prisoners are released.
Some suggest that this game of chicken is less of an attempt to see who is the weaker faction as it is a test of each other’s party’s loyalty to meaningful peace talks. It can be argued that by Israel and Palestine trying to prevent a collapse in the talks, they are instead threatening the entire peace process.
In response to the developments, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to the region in a desperate attempt to salvage the talks. Kerry has been leading the charge for the U.S. in terms of mediating and pushing negotiations forward. After having met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian head Abbas, there are no announcements as of yet as to whether or not the peace talks will continue.
As it stands, there are several points of contention that Israelis and Palestinians alike are equally stubborn on. These include disputes over territory, settlements, the possible division of Jerusalem, security and military concerns, prisoner releases, and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State.
These things have compiled to make any sort of peace talks incredibly difficult. Disputes and hard-line views on these issues have been cited numerous times as reasons why negotiations have been fruitless thus far.
In this sense, although Israel and Palestine alike are trying to prevent the collapse of the peace process, some are concerned that they were set up to fail from the start. Regardless of that possibility, all parties involved seem concerned with the prospect of real and lasting peace, and so long as talks continue, there is a possibility that peace may be achieved. Until then, this ongoing game of back and forth between the two nations is nothing new.
By Brett Byers-Lane
Kansas City Star