Entries in Middle East Peace Talks (3)


"Reality" Weighs Heavy on Obama's Mideast Peace Efforts

Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Middle East peace has been slow going for President Obama, as his administration's relationship with Israel has unfolded under his presidency in fits and starts.

In his first year in office, Obama brought the two sides together in New York, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel while the U.N. General Assembly convened.

There was some hope for progress after a Bush administration that largely kept its hands off, constrained by the Second Intifada Palestinian uprising for most of George W. Bush's time in office.

Obama hosted Netanyahu, Abbas, King Abdullah of Jordan and then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for a multilateral summit at the White House in September 2010, but four years into his presidency, Mubarak has been ousted as part of the "Arab Spring" movement Obama championed, and replaced by a parliament in which the Muslim Brotherhood wields much power.

The president has yet to produce major progress -- or at least a major, Clinton-esque photo-op -- in Middle East peace on which to hang his hat.

Thursday, as Obama met with Abbas, it appears unlikely that he will bring the two sides together during this trip.

"He hasn't abandoned the peace process, but he appears to be coming to terms with the reality of it, and acknowledging, at least implicitly, his contribution to getting us to where we are today," said Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, a hard-line, pro-Israel nonprofit that has leveled withering criticism at Obama and fellow Democrats in TV ads.

During his visit to Israel, Obama confronts a new political landscape in his second term.

The president lost more support among U.S. Jews than among any other demographic group between 2008 and his re-election in 2012, except for white 18-29 year olds. His Jewish support fell 9 percentage points, according to national exit polls.

Still, Obama won re-election despite fierce attacks not only from Pollak's group, but from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who aired TV ads criticizing Obama's perceived view of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Despite accusations that he is not a friend of Israel, and despite the drop-off in support, the president won 69 percent of Jewish voters on Election Day, far outstripping Romney's 30 percent.

"The calculus is now different," one American Israel activist, who asked not to be named, said. "With the elections both here and in Israel...he's starting to get a handle on the politics around this issue, and the American Jewish politics on this issue, and how to manage them both on a communal level in Congress."

Obama flashed a willingness to defy his pro-Israel opponents in nominating former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel as his new secretary of defense this year. Hagel drew sharp criticism from Israeli activists and Republican senators who pilloried his record and past statements, including a comment referring to pro-Israel groups as the "Jewish lobby," opposition to unilateral sanctions on Iran, support for talks with Hamas, and opposition to deeming Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group.

Obama met privately last week with a handful of Jewish leaders, reportedly telling them he would not travel to Israel with a "grand peace plan" to offer.

It appears that in the near term -- during this trip, at least -- Obama isn't looking for a sudden leap forward on peace talks. The White House denied a report in Israeli news outlet Yediot Aharonot that the president plans to offer a deal in the next six months, barring progress between the two sides.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Palestinians: No Deal Without Full Construction Freeze

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, in Cairo to meet with Egypt's President on Sunday, said there will be no resumption of the stalled middle east peace talks without a full freeze on settlement construction on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

The two were discussing a U.S. proposal for a 90-day freeze on construction to give breathing room to the process and persuade the Palestinians back to the bargaining table with Israel.  Abbas said he has not received an official proposal from the U.S. but regardless, a partial freeze is not good enough.

The direct peace talks that resumed in September fizzled after a partial settlement construction freeze was allowed to expire.  Abbas said that while the Palestinians hope to resolve the issue, there would be no resumption of talks so long as Israeli reconstruction continues on lands the Palestinians hope will be part of their own state. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking written support for the plan to renew limits on West Bank settlement construction.  But the U.S. is unlikely to put in a clause that does not include East Jerusalem when its official position includes opposition to any Israeli building in that part of the city.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


US Hints One-Year Deadline for Mideast Peace Could Slip

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Monday suggested for the first time that its ambitious goal of securing Mideast peace in only 12 months might not be achievable, given the recent deadlock.
“It does remain our view that an agreement can be reached within a reasonable period of time,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters. “When the process started, we said this could be accomplished within 12 months. Hard to say at this point, given the delay over the issue of settlements, where we stand on that clock.”
“If we get to August 2011 and we need a little more time to get this done, we'll take that time,” he added.
Earlier Monday, Secretary Clinton was asked about her seven-hour meeting with Netanyahu last Thursday. Reports over the weekend say that the U.S. proposed a 90-day settlement freeze -- excluding East Jerusalem -- in exchange for a large arms deal that could include fighter jets and other assistance.
Secretary Clinton wouldn’t reveal details, but said,  “We’re going to keep working every single day to bring about the swift resumption of negotiations on all the final status issues and we believe that it is only through negotiations that the final status issues can be resolved, that the conflict can be ended, that all claims can be addressed and ended, and the status quo is unacceptable.  So we’re going to continue to do everything we possibly can to get the parties to begin the kind of serious end-game negotiations that are necessary.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio