I decided to interrupt my normal blog post today because I felt this was a really important story. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to new peace talks starting Sept. 2 in Washington.
According to Secretary Clinton’s announcement, President Obama has sent a formal invitation today to both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “The president and I are encouraged by the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas and fully share their commitment to the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," Clinton said. Clinton also said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan have been invited to attend the September summit.
President Obama has been pushing for new Israeli-Palestinian talks since a previous round broke down in late 2008.
A group of governments known as the Quartet (the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union, and the Russian Federation) also issued a statement:
“The representatives of the Quartet reaffirm their strong support for direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues. The Quartet reaffirms its full commitment to its previous statements, including in Trieste on 26 June 2009, in New York on 24 September 2009, and its statement in Moscow on 19 March 2010 which provides that direct, bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues should "lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.
The Quartet expresses its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations, which can be completed within one year, and the implementation of an agreement. The Quartet again calls on both sides to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric. Welcoming the result of the Arab Peace Initiative Committee in Cairo on July 29, the Quartet notes that success will require sustained regional and international support for the negotiations and the parallel process of Palestinian state-building and the pursuit of a just, lasting and comprehensive regional peace as envisaged in the Madrid terms of reference, Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
The Quartet Principals intend to meet with their colleagues from the Arab League in September in New York to review the situation. Accordingly, the Quartet calls on the Israelis and the Palestinians to join in launching direct negotiations on September 2 in Washington, D.C. to resolve all final status issues and fulfill the aspirations of both parties.”
So, what does this mean? Is it the start of a real “peace process”? Who knows? We have seen so many attempts and good faith efforts get started that is it now hard to drum up too much hope –But – Peace will not come until one of these efforts succeeds. Maybe this is the one, maybe it isn’t but it is a very good thing when they are talking instead of shooting rockets at each other.
As for President Obama and Secretary Clinton brokering the deal, well, I have some reservations about that too, but I would be far more disappointed if they did not at least try! –And let’s face it; America will have to be the ultimate moderator of a peace agreement regardless of what administration occupies the White House.