An edited version of this piece first appeared at LobeLog.
The collapse of the U.S.-led talks between Israel and the Palestinians is now complete. In the wake of the latest agreement between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, Israel has announced the termination of talks. The United States, true to its form, is backing the Israeli position. In so doing, we see yet another demonstration of why the process, as it has been constructed for two decades, cannot possibly lead to a resolution of this long and vexing conflict.
U.S. Angered and Confused
Starting with the United States, one need look no further than the statement made by State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki. “It is hard to see how Israel will negotiate with a government that does not recognize its right to exist,” Psaki said. “The Palestinian reconciliation deal raises concerns and could complicate the efforts to extend peace talks.”
Well, as it turns out, it led to the suspension, at least for now, of the effort by the U.S. to extend the talks, an effort that any U.S. citizen, whatever their politics, should find embarrassing. But let’s examine that statement. Why, one wonders, would Psaki find it so “hard to see” how an Israeli government could negotiate with a unified Palestinian one? It is not Hamas Israel would be negotiating with, for a start, but a representative Palestinian Authority. Indeed, one of Israel’s chief complaints has long been that even if they struck a deal with Abbas, it might not hold since he did not represent all of the Palestinian body politic as, for example, Benjamin Netanyahu does for the Israeli one. Continue reading