Direct Talks Ready To Resume in Washington, DC
Four Israeli settlers were killed a few hours ago on the outskirts of the city of Hebron as gunmen opened fire on a car on a road in this city, according to Israeli military. Unconfirmed reports state that the four were part of the same family, including a pregnant woman.
No one has claimed the responsibility and the Israeli troops came to the scene to evacuate the bodies.
Hebron is a turbulent city in the West Bank, where a few settlers live protected by hundreds of Israeli soldiers. The city has many times been the scene of violent turbulences on both sides.
These attacks diminished the chance of the negotiations which are about to start in Washington tomorrow to bring a lasting solution for the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
President Obama has high hopes for these negotiations, as he is trying to broker a peace agreement within a year. Analysts say that one of the most important tasks Obama is committing himself to is convincing the public in Israel and Palestinian territories that the peace stands a chance.
Recent polls in Palestinian territories show that the opinion of the Palestinians is equally divided to three, that is 31 percent of the population consider the indirect talks should proceed; 31 percent deem that the talks that are about to start tomorrow represent the solution, while the last 31 percent consider that none of these will make any difference. The rest of several percents have no opinion on the topic.
That means Obama must convince at least 62 percent of the population living in the territories that the two-state solution will bring peace.
But the majority of the Palestinian population is not the only one he must convince of the two-state solution. Before embarking for Washington, DC, Benjamin Netanyahu said that his aim was to convince the Palestinians that they could live within a common state as equal citizens in peace, which means that Netanyahu has in mind a federal state with two nations within the same state, not two states.
Or, at most he has in mind a possible state of Palestine, not as Palestinians view it anyways, with the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the East Jerusalem as capital, but a state without the territories occupied by the Jewish settlers, which would remain to Israel.
Besides Netanyahu and Abbas, Obama will also meet and talk to Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt, and King Abdullah II of Jordan, invited to participate in these negotiations in hopes that they will contribute to the settling of this long-standing conflict.
The negotiations will be preceded on Wednesday by a state dinner in which will participate all the parties involved. On Thursday, the negotiations will be formally launched in a ceremony at the State Department.
It is said that the two leaders will also meet in private to break the ice of the nine months stalled negotiations.
Even though it was agreed that these negotiations will begin without preconditions, in fact the preconditions have already been established as Mahmoud Abbas made it abundantly clear that the whole effort will collapse, if the settlement moratorium which expires on September 26 is not prolonged indefinitely.
As we saw in the event today, the colonization process is a very delicate matter which could result in the death of the people caught in the middle of it.
At the same time, Netanyahu said that he is expecting that the Palestinians recognize the state of Israel, which is also a precondition.
The problem is that both parties are in no position to make such radical demands. On one hand, Netanyahu leads as PM a coalition that could collapse because many parties in it strongly support colonization, and the prolonging of the moratorium is something Netanyahu may not be able to promise.
Abbas, on the other hand, doesn’t speak for all the people in the Palestinian territories, since Hamas in the Gaza Strip will never acknowledge the existence of Israel, nor will other Palestinian organizations, or states that support them.
Last week, the Palestinian security forces were forced to violently disperse a gathering in Ramallah of the people opposing the negotiations.
An unsolved problem is that of refugees: the Israeli have no problem allowing the refugees to return to the future state of Palestine, while Palestinians insist that they may even return to the state of Israel.11