As Abbas Returns from US, Critics Say Talks Doomed to Fail

Upon returning to the West Bank Thursday after his latest visit to Washington, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas assured crowds he was holding fast to Palestinian ideals.

“It is impossible for the Palestinian leadership to abandon inalienable rights,” Abbas told thousands gathered near his office in Ramallah.

“We traveled and came back still holding fast to our promise. Be assured that we will triumph. We will never breach the trust.”

Analysts remain skeptical of the hopes for a lasting solution, however, nine months into the latest round of US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

In a statement issued by the Institute for Middle East Understanding Monday, critics expressed pessimism over the chances for peace.

“Chances of success are as slim as predicted,” said Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and the Palestine Center in Washington.

“The best Washington seems to be hoping for now is an extension of talks. This serves nothing more than the Israeli interest of continuing to occupy and colonize Palestinian territory,” Munayyer said.

“The predictable failure is a product of an American policy that fails to hold Israel accountable and makes perpetual occupation a viable policy option in Israel. Until this changes, little else will.”

Director of Palestinian think tank Al-Shabaka Nadia Hijab questioned Abbas’ choice to participate in US-brokered peace talks while vowing not to make moves at the international level.

“As Mahmoud Abbas left his meeting with US president Barack Obama today, did he reflect on the lessons of seeking peace without power?” Hijab asked while Abbas was in Washington.

“Did he regret securing Palestine’s upgraded status as a non-member observer state of the United Nations but then freezing its moves to join other UN organizations or the International Criminal Court in favor of yet more US-mediated negotiations that only result in increased pressure for Palestinian concessions?”

Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah, warned observers against misunderstanding the US role in the peace talks.

“President Obama’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, which comes on the heels of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, may give the impression that the US is an even-handed mediator in this never-ending Middle East peace process,” Bahour said.

“Such a reading would be a strategic misunderstanding. There is not an iota of symmetry between a military occupying power and a supposedly protected occupied people. When the US stops putting Israel’s interests before its own and starts holding it accountable in proportion to the severity of its violations of international law, then maybe peace will have a chance.”

Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse.

Israel’s government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units since the talks began, and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since talks began.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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