Pending Israeli-P.A. Talks Met with Skepticism

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Israel and the Palestinians will start talking again soon about a two-state solution to their conflict. But expectations are low that the talks will produce a peace agreement.

"The representatives of two proud people today have decided that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling," Kerry said.

It's unclear how Kerry pulled off the deal or what is in the details.

"Maybe there have been certain American promises made to the Palestinians that could be financial," former Israeli Ambassador to Washington Yoram Ettinger told CBN News. "It could be political, diplomatic and possibly, possibly there was pressure levied at Israel."

The bigger challenge -- the problems before any talking begins. The Palestinians aren't exactly united.
Hamas, the terrorist organization controlling the Gaza Strip, rejected the talks outright and Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah say it's not yet a done deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also has conditions. He hopes to prevent a one-state solution that would include making millions of Palestinians Israeli citizens and prevent the establishment of another Iran-sponsored terror state.

Netanyahu also plans to let Israelis vote on any final deal.

Both sides are skeptical.

"Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) seems so reluctant to resume the negotiation and so reluctant, or maybe unwilling, to make the necessary concessions on the Palestinian side," Israeli Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said.  

"So the pressure from the Americans is mainly on the Palestinians -- to accept American mediation and to accept Israeli conditions," Palestinian political analyst Samir Awad said.

The Palestinians demand Israel stop building in biblical Judea and Samaria and release more than 80 convicted Palestinian terrorists before talks even start.

It's also clear that dividing Jerusalem will be on their agenda -- a deal breaker for Israel.

Ettinger said the United States hasn't learned from past mistakes.

"During the last 100 years of the Israeli-Arab conflict, which precedes Israel's establishment, there has been ample evidence that the conflict has been over the existence rather than the size of Israel," he said.

"And the other issue, which is mind-boggling, is for the U.S. to be pre-occupied right now with the Palestinian issue while the Middle East is burning…while very vital American interests are threatened," he added.

According to Kerry, the talks could begin in Washington this week, but how long they'll last and where they'll lead remains to be seen.

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CBN News
Julie Stahl and John Waage

Julie Stahl and John Waage

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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