Middle East Peace Talks Resume Without Hamas
Interview with Hussein Ibish, senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
In early September, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came to Washington to begin direct peace talks at the behest of President Obama. The Middle East leaders were accompanied by the presidents of Jordan and Egypt, to demonstrate regional support for this new round of negotiations.
Netanyahu and Abbas declared their first meeting a positive step, and plan to meet every two weeks for a year with the goal of finalizing a settlement to a conflict that's gone on even longer than the 62 years Israel has officially existed. The leaders have pledged to take up the thorniest, so-called "permanent status issues" sooner rather than later. They include: establishing borders, Jerusalem as a shared capital, the future of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and the equitable sharing of scarce water resources. These issues have often been key elements in scuttling previous peace talks.
Abbas is negotiating on behalf of Fatah, the largest party within the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which governs the West Bank. While Hamas, that controls Gaza, is not included in the negotiations. The talks are being brokered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Sen. George Mitchell, U.S. special Middle East peace envoy. Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Hussein Ibish, senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, who assesses this latest round of Middle East peace talks and the obstacles that stand in the way of reaching an agreement.
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