United States Try to Revive Peace Talks

The Obama Administration has proposed a series of notable concessions to Israel in order to revitalize the moribund peace talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington DC, May 18, 2009
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington DC, May 18, 2009 (White House/Pete Souza

The Obama Administration has proposed a series of notable concessions to Israel in order to revitalize the peace talks with the Palestinians which have been hampered by Israel’s resumed settlement activity in contested territory. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from his visit to the United States to seek approval from the members of his cabinet to relaunch the negotiations.

Netanyahu met with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week. They and the president remain committed to the peace talks that were initiated by the administration in September. The Palestinians walked out on those negotiations after the Israeli prime minister, forced by hardliners in his government, refused to extend a self-imposed moratorium on settlement construction.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the United States have suggested the following steps to revive the talks.

  • A ninety day freeze on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank though not in East Jerusalem.
  • An American pledge to draw the Palestinians back into direct talks.
  • An American pledge to continue to support Israel militarily, including discussions on bilateral security agreements and the sale of an additional twenty F-35 fighter aircraft to Israel.

The United States have also promised to use its United Nations Security Council veto against unilateral efforts for Palestinian statehood and to support Israel if it is targeted over its nuclear capacities in other international bodies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency.

At resumed talks, the Israelis and Palestinians are to begin substantive discussions on borders and other core issues, such as the future status of Jerusalem, immediately. Secretary Clinton last week expressed support for an arrangement “based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps.” What such “swaps” would entail, and whether the Israelis could agree to them, remains to be seen.