CMEP Bulletin: New Year Brings Mixed Bag for Peace Prospects

CMEP Bulletin: New Year Brings Mixed Bag for Peace Prospects

weekly Churches for Middle East Peace bulletin

New Year Brings Face-to-Face Talks

In a surprising turn of events, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators met face-to-face for the first time in 16 months on January 3 in Amman.

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho with proposals on borders and security and the Israelis responded January 5 with a 21 point set of general principles of, “what will be needed to reach a final agreement, not with detailed Israeli proposals.” Talks are to resume January 9 in Amman.

PLO officials say the meeting did not mean negotiations had been restarted.  Instead, they insist they are fulfilling the obligations of the Quartet to submit proposals by January 26. Palestinians have not dropped their demand that Israel halt settlement activity and return to pre-1967 borders with swaps.   If Israel does not meet their Quartet obligations by January 26, Abbas has promised to respond with “hard measures,” which could mean more moves in the UN.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement when the talks were announced saying, “We are hopeful that this direct exchange can help move us forward on the pathway proposed by the Quartet. As the President and I have said before, the need for a lasting peace is more urgent than ever. The status quo is not sustainable and the parties must act boldly to advance the cause of peace.”

However, not everyone was pleased by the developments. A spokesman for the Islamist Palestinian party Hamas, Fawzi Barhoom, said the meeting was a “farce” and a “waste of time.”  He also said the talks “contradict the hopes and aspirations of our people.”  Ismail Radwan, another Hamas leader said, “We consider these meetings a blow for national reconciliation, especially as we agreed in Cairo to face Israel’s settlements, wall, and attacks together.”

Click here to continue reading this CMEP Bulletin, including the following items:

  • Santorum: “There is no Palestinian”
  • Israel deals with extremist settlers
  • New settlements announced, outposts legalized
  • Christmas messages from the Holy Land
  • The US contributes to UNRWA