Obama Should 'Forget Middle East, Focus on Ukraine'
US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry need to abandon the Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace talks now - so says the New York Times.
In an editorial board opinion piece, the American paper argues that "there is scant sign of serious purpose" in US efforts to salvage the talks, which were derailed on March 1 as PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas breached talk conditions by requesting to join 15 international conventions.
Instead, Obama and Kerry "should move on and devote their attention to other major international challenges like Ukraine," reasons the paper, noting the tense standoff between Russia and Ukraine.
The New York Times suggests that the US administration draw up a list of principles for a two state solution that would create a PA-run state in the heart of Israel. The paper calls for a PA state along 1949 Armistice lines, land swaps, and Jerusalem as a capital for both Israel and the PA.
"Israel to Blame"
The paper, like Kerry, appears to blame Israel for the failure of the talks that were left at a roadblock due to Abbas's refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The NYT marks Netanyahu's "obstinacy," noting afterwards Abbas's "resistance" to enter talks.
The article then states that members of Netanyahu's coalition have tried to sabotage the talks, quoting Justice Minister Tzipi Livni who claimed Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel "don't want peace."
Likewise the opinion piece claims the PA breach of talk conditions was a "response" to Israel putting the last batch of terrorist releases on hold, which was due to the total lack of progress in talks and the releases' dependency on progress. It further blamed Israel for announcing 700 new housing units in Jerusalem; a building freeze was not a condition of the talks.
"An Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is morally just and essential for the security of both peoples. To achieve one will require determined and courageous leaders and populations on both sides that demand an end to the occupation. Despite the commitment of the United States, there’s very little hope of that now," concludes the article.