Crucial Mideast talks

The State Department is hosting the most important curtain raiser talks on the Middle East — and that too after a break of three years. The Israeli and Palestinian representatives have a daunting task, at least, to make some space for summit level discussions, which could ultimately pave the way for a consensus on irritant issues.

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Published: Tue 30 Jul 2013, 9:49 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:46 AM

The Israeli delegation led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who is currently serving as justice minister, is likely to have a tête-à-tête with veteran Palestinian wizard Saeb Erekat. The interaction of heavy weights at the primary level itself shows that things are not that easy as they are purported, and both the sides would have to patiently iron out issues amongst themselves.

The thorny issues on the agenda for Washington talks are: the future of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. These were the tricky subjects that stalled the peace process in 2010, and led to a complete rupture of diplomatic ties between the two parties. Though settlements are considered illegal under the canons of international law, Tel Aviv’s adamant attitude to reflect it as part of its territory and that too with expansionist mindset has been the root cause of problems. While the Palestinians had already made a withdrawal from occupied territories and an end to settlements as a prerequisite for getting back to the table, it remains to be seen how effectively those issues are addressed at the representatives level, and what meaningful equation is evolved to further the peace process. As far as the State Department is concerned, it should ensure that the parties concerned do not end up in an exhaustive phase and delay the outcome by citing puzzling objectives.

While Secretary of State John Kerry has really worked hard to bring the warring parties across the table, he needs to follow it up by prevailing over both the leaderships for a thaw. At the same time, it is incumbent upon the United States to see that domestic hiccups in Israel do not obstruct the talks. The manner in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had struggled to get his cabinet’s nod on the release of some 100 odd Palestinian prisoners, as a goodwill gestures for resuming talks, just goes to establish the inherent obstacles towards a deal for reconciliation. The welcome development, nonetheless, is that they are engaged in a dialogue and that too with the intent of addressing the issues of settlements and boundaries. Tactful leadership gestures at this point of time can help over bitterness of history.

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