Israel Offers Concessions, But Few Believe Peace Talks Will Yield Results
Israel Makes First Moves In Restarted Talks With Palestinians Just before negotiators arrived in Washington, DC, the Israeli Cabinet agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners by a vote of 13-7. The status of prisoners had been one of the major roadblocks to the peace talks and also is very unpopular with the Israeli population.
The goal of the talks is to “develop a procedural workplan” for future talks, not necessarily to reach any broad agreements.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the prisoners – if approved – would be released in four stages over the next nine months, but releases will be contingent upon progress made at the negotiating table.
The Cabinet also approved draft legislation mandating a national referendum if an accord with the Palestinians is reached that necessitates withdrawals from part of Jerusalem or land swaps. The bill could appear before the Israeli Knesset for a vote on Wednesday.
While the release of prisoners was a positive signs, few believe this week’s discussions or the next round will lead to a breakthrough. One need only look at the long history of negotiations to recognize the difficulty of the task ahead.
Michigan State University professor Mohammed Ayoob describes the talks as a “road to nowhere” in a commentary piece on Al-Jazeera. Ayoob maintains the purpose of the talks is to deflect criticism of the US “for its failure to stop Israeli colonisation of the West Bank which is rendering Palestinian statehood impossible.”