August 14, 2013 (TSR-Xinhua) – On the eve of resuming the second round of peace talks with Israel slated for Wednesday in Jerusalem, Palestinians do not pin hopes on reaching a permanent peace deal that will end a decades-old conflict.
Israel’s refusal to commit itself to stopping settlement building and recognizing the principle of the two-state solution based on 1967 borders, besides a 20-year-old fruitless negotiation, has added to the pessimism among Palestinians.
Late in July, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held their first meeting in Washington under the U.S. auspices to agree on the outlines of resuming the peace talks, which stopped almost three years ago due to differences on the settlement issue.
The U.S. State Department announced then that a nine-month period was estimated for finalizing the direct talks and reaching a deal. After the second round of talks, the two sides are set to meet again in the West Bank city of Jericho.
However, Heba Tahan, a female employee in the Palestinian National Authority government and resident of Ramallah, predicted a failure of the talks. “These talks are obviously serving the interests of Israel only to abort the international pressure on it, while they will never serve the Palestinian interests,” she said.
Hassan Habbas, a Ramallah-based worker, also said the ongoing talks would be fruitless, as “it is just an extension to the previous failure which only gave Israel more time to expand settlements and keep its military occupation going on.”
Noor Orief, a Gaza-based university academic, said the resumption of the talks without meeting the Palestinian demands showed the weakness of the Palestinian side and its disability to gain its requirements throughout the negotiations.
“The talks are run under the American pressure only,” he pointed out.
The Palestinian leadership agreed to restart the direct peace talks without insisting on getting a written Israeli commitment to halting settlement activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the territories the Palestinians want to be the lands of their future state, including the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, a public opinion poll showed Monday that the Palestinians are not that eager of talking with Israel. The poll, conducted by the Ramallah-based think tank Arab World For Research and Development, revealed that only 46 percent of the surveyed youths support the resumption of the talks.
The Israeli government’s latest bid of building 1,200 new housing units in the settlements near east Jerusalem and in the West Bank makes the Palestinian people all the more desperate.
The ongoing settlement activities “make the talks look so absurd and unsuccessful,” said Hani al-Masri, a West Bank-based political analyst, told Xinhua.
INTERNAL DIVISION TO MAKE TALKS IN VAIN
Islamic Hamas movement, which violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 following weeks of fighting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ security forces, opposes the resumption of the talks, saying “this gives Israel more space for continuing its crimes against our people.”
Abu Jabber Ellian, a Gaza-based vendor, believed that the disagreement among the Palestinian powers and factions on the resumption of the peace talks with Israel “is based on ideological differences among the parties and will not serve the national interests of the Palestinian people.”
“Resuming the direct peace talks with Israel amid an ongoing internal Palestinian division and amid a weak Palestinian position is just a jump in the air that will never serve the just Palestinian cause and bring the Palestinian people their legitimate rights back,” said Ellian.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are scheduled to discuss on issues of Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, security and water, in addition to releasing more than 4,700 Palestinian and Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails.
But there are also different voices. Ahmed Oudeh, a Palestinian interpreter based in the West Bank, said whatever the circumstances are, “we have to give the process of the negotiations a chance and then make our judgment after it ends.”
Meanwhile, Rajab Abu Serreyah, a Gaza-based political analyst, ruled out that the large popular opposition against the resumption of talks with Israel would be influential.
“The talks will continue as a kind of public relations to avoid a large popular Palestinian revolt on their leaderships,” said Serreyah.