The first round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in a decade will begin next week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced late Friday.
The indirect, "proximity" talks will be mediated in a kind of shuttle diplomacy by Special Envoy George Mitchell between the Israeli and the Palestinian governments. He'll go back and forth between the Israelis in West Jerusalem and the Palestinians in Ramallah, about a 20-minute ride. From Politico:
"Ultimately, we want to see the parties in direct negotiations and working out all the difficult issues that they must," Clinton told reporters .... "They've been close a few times before."
These are the talks that should have started a year ago, shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated his support for a two-state solution during a speech on June 14 at Bar Ilan University. There've been a lot of bumps in the road toward negotiations since then, mostly over settlements and settlers in the future Palestine. [This piece in the Times reviews the bumps.]
A good time to take a moment to re-read Netanyahu's speech, especially these two hopeful paragraphs:
But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor's security and existence....
I call upon Arab leaders and Palestinian leaders: Let's go in the path of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let's go in the path of Prophet Isaiah, who spoke thousands of years ago, they shall beat their swords into plowshares and know war no more. Let us know war no more. Let us know peace.
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