Kerry’s breakthrough

A THAW IS in the making as far as turbulent Palestinian-Israeli relations are concerned. The good offices of the United States State Department finally seem to have prevailed, and at least the Israelis for reasons best known to them are in a mood to send overtures to the dispossessed nation across the barbed fence in the occupied territories.

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Published: Mon 22 Jul 2013, 12:35 AM

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

The decision to free Palestinian prisoners as a response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s persuasion is a welcome move. If reports are to be believed, Tel Aviv has decided to release a number of high-profile prisoners and they also include ‘some who are in jail for decades’. Though no names have been mentioned, it remains to be seen whether they constitute the yesteryears PLO leadership who were rounded up after the 1973 Arab-Israel war and during the First Intifada.

Yuval Steinitz, Israeli minister for international relations, has just hinted that the prisoners are from the back-sheet log and ‘heavy-weight’ in essence. Keeping in view the modus operandi of Israel’s commitments, it is too early to say who the prisoners are and when they would ultimately walk free. It is also not known whether the Jewish state is going to chip in conditionalities after having played to the gallery in making such tall claims. The roadmap talks for prisoners release and subsequent diplomatic moves are likely to be held in Washington next week, and is going to be a tough nut to crack in the absence of a formal Palestinian delegation.

The Palestinians have already expressed their reservations and resentment over the new peace bid from the US, saying that their concerns and preconditions for bringing an end to settlements had not been addressed for long. The Palestinian reluctance is understandable, as they were made to lose four precious years since the so-called peace talks were initiated, and literally nothing was done in the first term of US President Barack Obama. Similarly, there had been no respite for the destitute nation as the world’s largest open-air prison of Gaza, constituting more than 1.5 million people, had been under Israeli onslaught coupled with socio-economic sanctions.

The Palestinians demand that any border limitation talks should be based on the ceasefire line held from 1949 until the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem is too genuine to be brushed aside. The proposed six-to-nine months talks, as stipulated by Kerry, aren’t going to be a smooth affair if they are not conducted in rationality with the sense of purpose of resolving the historic dispute. How the Palestinian leadership responds to the upcoming prisoners release and what impact the released men are going to have on dialogue will seal the prospects of peace and tranquility in the region.

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