For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Prior to the start of the new round of Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) direct negotiations, a high-ranking administration official briefed the media today on what to expect. Having read the transcript prior to its official release, I will summarize here the most interesting points.
The basic structure of the talks is as follows: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas plan to meet every two weeks, starting on September 2. There will be more frequent meetings at a lower level on various issues. The United States will watch closely but the talks will be bilateral and the U.S. side will make no formal proposals.
In the words of the briefing:
“It does not mean that the United States will simply stand aside and not participate actively. We will operate in a manner that is reasonable and sensible in the circumstances which exist, but the guiding principle will be an active and sustained United States presence.” The word “presence” is an alternative to the word “involvement,” signaling a role as observer at this point.
Is the idea of solving this in a year realistic? The U.S. official insists it is a “window of opportunity” (heard that one before?), citing statements by both Netanyahu and Abbas (neither of whom believes this for a moment) to that effect. If they don’t make peace now, he added, they will face “”far greater difficulties and far greater problems in the future.”
It is noteworthy that making a deal is always deemed never to pose any greater problems in the future. To set as the two choices: continuation of a long, bloody conflict or its solution bringing about total peace and happiness obviously signals which is the preferred option. In this case, both leaders would love to make a deal, right?
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"