The first session of dialogue in two years between the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority concluded yesterday with a small triumph: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to a series of direct talks beginning in Egypt in two weeks' time. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed optimism that these talks would lead to a peace deal within a year. But even with the auspicious start, is there any hope that one of the world's fiercest conflicts can be solved in just twelve months? (Watch an AP report about the peace talks)
Against all the odds, a good start: Despite the "broad cynicism oozing out" of both the U.S. and Israel, says Daniel Stone in Newsweek, there's good reason to be optimistic. On the evidence of today, Abbas and Netanyahu are building a rapport that "lubricates the possibility for meaningful concessions." Granted, it would be "shocking, almost unbelievable," if lasting peace is achieved within a year. But this was far from a terrible start.
"How Obama could actually broker Mideast peace"
No talks can solve this intractable dispute: The U.S. is living in "fantasyland" if it thinks it can "broker, negotiate, or impose a just and lasting peace," says Tom Fenton at Global Post. There is no solution as long as "two ethnic groups claim to have a God-given right to the same small bit of land," and there's nothing Obama or anyone else can do to change that.
"No Mideast peace? Blame the American media"
When Hamas fears these talks, we know they're working: I had low expectations for these talks, says Richard Spencer in the Daily Telegraph, but I'm "strangely more optimistic" after this week. If Hamas is "rattled" by the talks — as the "brutal" killing of four Israeli settlers this week suggests — then I'm heartened. Hamas realizes it could be "marginalized" by these discussions — and when it is, this "phony war" may finally end.
"In the Middle East, murder is sometimes a reason for hope"