U.S. Scrambles to Salvage Ailing Israeli-Palestinian Talks – Ron Kampeas
(dailyalert.org, Mar. 26, 2014
Martin Indyk, the peace process envoy for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, is in Israel and the West Bank this week attempting to salvage the talks ahead of Saturday’s deadline for a fourth release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel. Israeli officials have said that if PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not agree to an extension of the talks, the planned release on March 29 of 26 long-term Palestinian prisoners will not take place. Indyk and Kerry have abandoned for now their hopes of unveiling a U.S.-drafted framework for a final peace agreement. Instead, Indyk is simply seeking the extension of the talks for another nine months.
Analysts said the Israeli-Palestinian talks would probably survive the current crisis. Analyst Yossi Alpher said if the EU is serious about threats to cut subsidies to the PA should Abbas walk away from talks, Abbas “will have no choice except to fold.”
Ghaith al-Omari, the director of the American Task Force on Palestine, said the alternative for the Palestinians of seeking statehood status in world forums is not an attractive one. “It is costly,” he said, referring to the cuts in assistance from the U.S. that such action would likely bring. Additionally, al-Omari said, Abbas already played out the statehood recognition gambit in 2012. “When you go to the General Assembly the first time, you have TV screens. By the seventh time, when you’re at the World Health Organization, it won’t get much attention.” (JTA)