Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, a team who have written a number of key and informed articles for intellectual media about how the U.S. conducted the unsuccessful Camp David negotiations (hosted by U.S. President Bill Clinton) in late July 2000 between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, have written today in The Guardian that “amid speculation over how Israelis and Palestinians might now resume their talks, a reality is taking hold: the point is fast approaching where negotiations between the two will be, for all practical purposes and for the foreseeable future, over. As emissaries are dispatched and ideas explored, discussions could well carry on. But they will have lost all life, energy or sense of purpose”.
This piece of analysis is rather trite in describing the motives and situation of Israel’s current Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. It is better at taking on the current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas.
They write: “Two years ago [when Barak Obama had been elected and his transition team was putting together his new administration] Abbas also harboured a faith of sorts. Part of it was fuelled by a lifelong belief that Israelis could be persuaded by sheer force of reason and logic of the need for compromise. He also invested high hopes in President Obama and, based on precedent, had little cause to believe a rightwing Israeli prime minister would necessarily be worse than a centrist or leftwing one. What optimism there was did not last long, replaced by a growing sense of dejection. Abbas faced a heroic task for which he needed help from all. He got it from virtually none. Belief in the United States soon started to fade, a victim of Washington’s serial tactical misjudgments and inability to live up to its promises. Abbas felt betrayed too by Arab regimes that had pledged their support only to desert him at the first opportunity. On the domestic front, there is no political weight or momentum behind the negotiations. Not unlike Netanyahu, the Palestinian president emerged profoundly discouraged from their meetings, shaken by his counterpart’s demands, staggered by the chasm separating their respective positions. For Abbas, who has staked all on negotiations, the realisation was especially deflating. His rejection of violence is heartfelt and not something he is about to revisit. Yet only now is he coming to terms with its practical consequences, with no viable alternative to the failed diplomatic diplomatic strategy”.