The PA-based Ma’an News Agency has solicited opinions from people in the news on the negotiations that are about to begin in Washington: two Arabs, one Peace Now member, and, surprisingly, what they term a “Jewish settler” from the heart of Shomron, David Ha’Ivri.
Ha’Ivri concentrated in his remarks on the lack of helpfulness inherent in the U.S. pressure on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This pressure is “actually counterproductive,” he writes. “Peace is not made by negotiators; peace is made by neighbors. Twisting the arms of our leaders and forcing them to pose for a photo op with American President Barack Obama will not make our people love each other any more.”
“These direct talks are really not about Israel and the PA,” Ha’Ivri states, “and not even about Netanyahu and Abbas. This charade is all about Obama, who is losing popularity in both Muslim and Jewish support bases in America… America's unaccomplished president will have his prize as soon as he finishes posing with the two leaders and can hang that picture next to similar ones of Jimmy Carter and George Bush.”
“Traveling 9,000 kilometers away from the problem does not bring us any closer to the solution,” Ha’Ivri wrote on Ma’an. “True peace in the region will only emerge through local efforts based on local prescriptions… If peace is the ultimate goal, talks in these circumstances will surely take us further from it; we see that both sides have become aggravated from the pressure and [are acting] like trapped animals looking for a way out. The time has come for our peoples to develop our own brave leadership that will have the wisdom to say ‘Thank you but, no thank you’ to foreign powers who wish to impose their policies on our local issues… We are in no need of their timetables and frame-works. We will work out our differences at our own pace with our own local solutions that very well might be totally revolutionary to the Western concepts that they wish to force-feed us.”
Another participant in the Ma’an forum was journalist Ali Abunimah, who was recently cited on Israel National News for writing a New York Times op-ed defending Hamas. He wrote for Ma’an that “the talks have no chance of reaching the stated destination of ‘two-states living side by side in peace’ and that is not their purpose. So who benefits from this futile and deceptive exercise?” He answers that it is mainly Israel, which will be able to “steer a course between carrying on with its aggressive colonization and slow ethnic cleansing of occupied Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank while fending off international pressure.”
Obama will also benefit, Abunimah writes in agreement with Ha’Ivri, as will Abbas, because “the long-dead peace process provides the only justification for [the PA’s] continued existence, which has become an oppressive burden on the Palestinian people and a barely disguised tool of Israel's occupation…”
Though he does not mention Hamas, it is clear where his sympathies lies.
Peace Now President
Debra DeLee, president of Americans for Peace Now in Washington, D.C., writes in the Ma’an forum that she is “excited” over the talks, which she notes are taking place “under the auspices of President Obama, who clearly is committed to achieving peace.” She also is optimistic that “Abbas is coming to the table with the explicit backing of the entire Arab world.” She is aware that previous peace talks have floundered, but believes that with “political courage and determination,” peace in the Middle East can be achieved within a year.
Maen Areikat, PLO
Finally, Maen Areikat, ambassador of the PLO General Delegation to Washington, D.C., who blames Israel for continuing to “impos[e] facts on the ground, defy international law, and act as a state above the law.” He notes that the PA will pursue peace even “if there’s even a glimmer of hope” – but “not at any cost.”
Ma’an states on its website that it is “considered the main source of independent news” from the Palestinian Authority. It is a part of the Ma’an network, a non-profit media organization founded in 2002 to strengthen professional independent PA media.