It wasn’t that long ago, less than nine months, that the US wanted the Israel-Palestinian talks to forge a “final status agreement.” Then, the focus for the talks tempered to just reaching a “framework agreement.” Now, the US is just hoping to keep the talks going.
In comments released by the State Department, spokesperson Marie Harf said that the current talks are seeking “just to extend” the talks. And after a tragic murder of an Israeli by Palestinian gunfire earlier this week, just keeping the sides talking will be a tall order.
Harf, under duress from a reporter in the press briefing, said the current Israel-Palestinian discussions still have an ultimate goal in mind, but the current focus is much less significant. When asked if they’d dropped the goal of reaching a framework deal, Harf said, “I’m just saying what we’re focused on now in these next set of meetings.”
“We still have a goal of a lasting peace agreement that addresses all issues between the two parties. That’s our goal. That’s always been our goal,” said Harf. “How we get there, we’re focused right now on the next step, which is seeing if we can get an agreement on extending the negotiations.”
Of course, that’d be a lot easier if the Palestinians made their interest in reaching a peace deal more apparent. Right now, the Palestinian Authority and their state-sponsored media have been making the opposite impact.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after the shooting incident on Monday, “This reprehensible murder… is the result of the incitement for which the Palestinian Authority is responsible. The Palestinian Authority continues to constantly broadcast—in its official media—programs that incite against the existence of the State of Israel.
“Last night this incitement was translated into the murder of a father who was traveling with his family to celebrate the first night of Passover.”
Nine months of talking peace, and instead we’re talking about murder. Looks like the US has a tough road ahead, even if their only goal for now is just to keep talking.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 16, 2014)