3 August 2013, 16:59

Israel and Palestine renew peace talks: will peace treaty be signed in nine months?

Israel and Palestine have renewed peace talks this week. The delegations of the two countries met in Washington to agree to hold direct peace talks. The outcome of the meeting is considered positive by both parties, but the main achievement is the decision itself to renew the dialogue.

The Americans prepared the meeting cautiously – there were no controversial issues on the agenda such as the legal status of Jerusalem, so the negotiations were held in a civilized atmosphere, without slamming doors. But it’s too early to conclude, like John Kerry did, that a peace treaty will be signed in nine months, Dmitry Mariyasis, an expert of the Department of Israel of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes.

“I think that now peace is not closer than during any previous peace talks. Former US President Bill Clinton thought Israel and Palestine would sign a peace treaty as in 2000. But 13 years have passed and nothing happened. And, to tell the truth, there is not much hope,” Mariysais said.

In fact, Israel is read y to agree to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, but without preliminary conditions and within the boundaries the Arabs occupy now. Meanwhile, the Palestinians want to get back the territories on the West bank of the Jordan River occupied by Israel, to create a Palestinian state within the boundaries of 1967, to have refugees back and revise the legal status of Jerusalem. And none of them is ready to compromise, Sergei Seregichev, an expert of the Institute of Oriental Studies.

The problem with a Palestinian state is refugees and territories. If a separate Palestinian state is created, what will they do with millions of Arabs living on the Israel territory? As they, obviously, have no land for all of them on the Palestinian state territory. The second problem is the status of Jerusalem. Those are very painful issues for both countries. And I haven’t heard of any new approach to solve them as neither Israel nor Palestine is going to agree to the declaration of Jerusalem as a neutral city or a city under UN control. And to divide Jerusalem is a very difficult, almost impossible task.

Another problem is that both Israelis and Palestinians don’t tend to negotiations, but Israel now has no reasons to believe in serious intentions of Palestinians, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin said in an interview to the Voice of Russia.

“Some conditions the Palestinian side set are not acceptable. Mahmoud Abbas’s statement that there will be not a single Jew or Israeli in a Palestinian state is very symptomatic. Such a vision of the situation doesn’t look like willingness to achieve peace,” Elkin added.

At the same time the Palestinian administration promises that on any agreement reached during the talks will be held a referendum. Given that Hamas has already expressed its negative attitude to the renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian talks, it will be hard for the Palestinian government to get people’s approval.

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