The Middle East peace talks are starting. Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas will be meeting every two weeks this year to attempt to hammer out a peace deal between Israel and Palestine. Will they be able to join together to create the peace deal that has eluded the two countries for six decades?
Today Prime Minister Netanyahu called President Abbas his “partner in peace” and said he arrived for the talks to see a “historic compromise,” notes the New York Times. President Abbas stated that he will “spare no effort and will work diligently” for peace, notes the Washington Post.
Those optimistic words by both leaders send a wonderful message to the world. Now, for the first time in a long time perhaps a hope for a peace accord is realistic and will be realized this year. Of course both men also expressed concern about maintaining security for their country.
Peace Talks are High Risk
Both Netanyahu and Abbas are taking huge risks by participating in the peace talks. Chaos could erupt in both countries if it looks as if the peace talks are going well. A faction of both countries would do anything possible to derail the peace talks.
There are complex issues to negotiate. Both men need to keep their countries safe. They also have to find a way to reach an agreement on issues about Palestinian refugees, Israel’s security, the settlements in Israel, the borders for each country, and the fate of Jerusalem, notes the NY Times.
Complex Motives for Israel and Palestine
The media is full of articles about how Benjamin Netanyahu is under the sway of the opinions of his father and his wife, both of whom favor far-right Zionist attitudes about Israel. But perhaps now the time ripe for Netanyahu to now speak his own mind and make his own decision to participate optimistically in the peace talks that are starting in Washington, DC.
Does Netanyahu have an ulterior motive, such as placating President Obama so U.S. aid to Israel is not jeopardized and so his possible strategy of a future attack on Iran is not deemed impossible by Obama? And what might the underlying motives be for President Abbas? Will he gain power in Palestine if he brokers a peace deal? Will he go down in history as the man who brought statehood to Palestine?
Can Netanyahu and Abbas work together to bring peace to two countries that have long had such a tumultuous history? And can each man convince their supporters and people in their countries that a peace deal is the best solution to the problems plaguing Israel and Palestine?
Will the Settlement Issue be Divisive?
The issue of the settlement may prove problematic during the peace talks. President Obama has made it very clear he wants construction of settlements to halt. President Abbas wants the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank to stop.
Netanyahu has previously favored ongoing development of the settlements; however now he is surely aware that if that continues he will alienate President Abbas and the peace talks will be over.
Will Hamas Create Havoc During Peace Talks?
And of course even if the talks are progressing nicely, there is always the possibility of Hamas making some horrific attack to derail the peace talks. This terrorist group is Machiavellian in its desire to harm Israel. Hamas does not have the best interests of Palestine at heart. It seeks power and violence rather than peace.
Where is Gilad Shalit?
So many issues plague the peace talks. And as they commence, the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is still being held somewhere in Palestine after being kidnapped by Hamas. And Hamas just killed 4 Israeli settlers. And the Israeli prisoners are full of Palestinians, some of whom have not had their rights for justice honored at all.
Are Rabin and el-Sadat Overseeing the Peace Talks?
And are the spirits of Yitzhak Rabin and Anwar el-Sadat sitting at the peace talks table too? Are they eager onlookers hoping peace will arrive in their lands so that other leaders who favor peace will not also be assassinated?
History is in the air in Washington, DC now. It would be so wonderful for the world if a new stage begins now in the history of the Middle East. It would be so beautiful if words like refugee, white phosphorous, rockets, suicide bombers, air raid siren, and murder were no longer so closely associated with the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Prayers for Peace!
Twitter Updates by Netanyahu
Prime Minister Netanyahu is on Twitter. It will be fascinating indeed to see what he tweets about as the peace talks proceed.
To follow the tweets of Prime Minister B. Netanyahu on Twitter go HERE.