What are the odds that peace talks between Israel and Palestine will resume any time soon, in your view?
The Israeli minister in charge of the negotiations with Palestinians was in London yesterday and in a close briefing she was very clear in describing the current situation as what she called a pause in negotiations. She told us that she had met with John Kerry earlier in the day while she was here in London. Mahmud Abbas had met with Kerry just a day before in London. So, in some ways there is still some sort of contact going on between the two sides who are mostly negotiating independently of each other via the US as an intermediary before the breakdown. But it is clear that right now they are not really talking about much accept what future there can be and how talks might be resumed. There is little movement that can really happen for now because Israel quite rightly refuses to negotiate with the Palestinians while they embrace Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules in the Gaza strip and has a genocidal anti-Israel mission statement in the form of its original covenant. I mean Hamas has declared rejection of Israel as a Jewish state, of recognizing any borders or any negotiations agreed and of desiring the death of all Jews everywhere. So, that is pretty definitive and they act on that credo all the time launching hundreds of thousands rockets into Israeli populated areas, constantly from the Gaza strip. So, no state would really negotiate in that sort of circumstances. For that part Mr. Abbas seems content with having secured the release from jail of hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists and now continues to pursue his unilateral approach with the UN filing applications to join UN body, through which he can launch diplomatic assault from Israel. So, right now it doesn’t look likely but obviously the will on the part of the US is on the way.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced plans to reconcile with Hamas. But Israel says it won’t negotiate with any government backed by Hamas. Do you think it will present a serious problem for US Secretary John Kerry’s peace effort?
Yes, I think that Kerry agrees with Israel on this. The US has made it clear that it believe the rejection of violence is an essential part of nay part of negotiation even starting. However, the fact that Mr. Abbas has talked about unity plans with Hamas isn’t the same as anything coming of those plans. He’s announced the unity deal 4 times in the past and nothing has come of those. That is why Tzipi Livni yesterday said that the official Israeli position as of the talks is not terminally concluded and that also seems to be Kerry’s position. He is looking for a way to resume those talks and should the circumstances be right, I think his enthusiasm for continuing the talks will be as great as ever.
Earlier, Palestinian officials accused the Obama administration of favoring Israel in peace negotiations. What’s your opinion on that?
I think the American commitment to non-violence is something that isn’t pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian. I think it is pro-everyone. I mean peace can’t happen in a situation where there is terrorist violence taking place and that is part of the point. I think the US has been pretty tough on Israel as well. Kerry at one stage mentioned that settlements had been an issue at the breakdown of the talks. But settlements were never part of the agreement Israel made before the talks started with America. And moreover if we analyze the data of settlements we can see that Mr. Netanyahu has been building them energetically but only on the territories, or predominantly on the territories that Israel will certainly keep in any deal. So, he is almost preparing for two states.