03 January 2012

New Talks Between Israel and Palestinians: Significant or Not?

While the title is reminiscent of Stephen Colbert's bombastic opening questions, I am not being facetious.

BBC reported today that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will be holding their first talk in more than a year. A good friend of mine emailed to ask whether I feel like gloating. The reference was to my post entitled "Is Likud Getting Ready to Deal?" and my seemingly unshakable belief that this long lasting conflict will come to an end in the next little while (if I were forced, I would say 12 to 24 months). After all, this blog project was built on the hypothesis that change in the Middle East had a direction and a purpose (other than romantic notions on ethnic Springs).

Being a contrarian, my reaction to this news is rather cautious. I do not think that the current Israeli government is capable to take the necessary steps to achieve these goals. My guess is that, with or without Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu imploding, Netanyahu will call early elections in June or July and then the peace process will start in earnest, possibly with a national unity government.

I also believe that these negotiations would be meaningless before the final drama or denouement in Syria. I don't think anyone in the region can make sound moves until that moment arrives.

If I were a betting person, I would say that these talks seemed to be designed to give some kind of cover to each party for their domestic and international constituencies and they would likely end in failure or stalemate.

But that doesn't mean that I despair.

I am waiting for the real thing to gloat.

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