The resumption of preliminary talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Washington today is a welcome return to diplomacy but expectations remain low and compromises on preconditions of the talks must be found, Middle East analysts from the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) have warned.
The HJS foreign affairs think tank, which researches and debates Middle East peace and has published a significant body of work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has said President Obama’s softer line on the Palestinian demand for the dismantling of Israeli settlements points to a recognition that this cannot be a precondition of peace talks.
HJS Political Director Davis Lewin said: “The talks mark a welcome return from the damaging exercise in unilateralism that the Palestinian leadership engaged in at the United Nations last year. The conflict must be resolved directly between the parties if they are to find a lasting solution.
“Settlements are part of a package of issues that require negotiation. Israel has shown a willingness in the past to evacuate territory under terms of negotiated deals – there is no reason this will not happen again under the terms of a credible deal.”
Recent developments have proved Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s seriousness about making peace and Israel’s willingness to compromise, with the release of Palestinian prisoners who were convicted for murdering innocent Israelis – against staunch opposition from right wing members of his coalition and overwhelming opposition from the Israeli public.
Mr Lewin added: “The prisoner release, and Netanyahu’s dispatching of both his confidante Yitzhak Molcho and even more so one of his major political adversaries and the leading voice for negotiations Tzipi Livni, indicate that Israel is serious about finding a way to sign a viable peace agreement.”