Middle East

Middle-East talks: Opposing views

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will hold another round of peace talks within the next two weeks, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said.

It follows two days of direct peace negotiations between the two sides in Washington DC - the first in three years.

Here, Israeli and Palestinian readers give their views on the talks.

Yeshaya Amichai, 37, Israeli, Tel Aviv

I am glad to see a resumption of the talks.

I would have hoped to see the resumption of proper communication at this stage, but I don't think at this moment that anything concrete will be accomplished or agreed upon.

As always, I see the final status of Jerusalem as being the main obstacle.

I would like to see the acknowledgment of the two-state solution as the only viable one.

I would also like to see the halting of continued settlement construction, along with the continued access of Jews to the Old City being discussed.

The Arab League Initiative, and its proposals of normalising relations between the Arab nations and Israel, must be allowed to reach fruition.

There must also be an acknowledgement that the right of return of Palestinians to land on the Israeli side of the Green Line [or 1948 ceasefire lines] is illogical and politically impossible.

I am sceptical that any true progress will be accomplished in these talks, but I can only hope to see a commitment on both sides to continue the process of communication.

Khader Abu Abbara, 53, Palestinian, Beit Jala, West Bank

The last 20 years have passed, with several rounds of negotiations ending in vain.

The failure of each round brought more disaster, pain and oppression, instead of progress and improving people's welfare.

In light of this, how can any Palestinian be convinced that this round of negotiation is any different?

Israel proved that it can make concessions when it endorsed the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

But despite its recent decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, they will be released in stages over a pre-set timeline and it will be linked to the progress of the negotiations, which means that Israel will turn such a humanitarian issue into a pressing tool to serve its interests in the talks.

It is hard to jump to the conclusion that this round will carry new horizons or open new doors.

But the two sides should aim to bring about concrete solutions to affect people's lives and provide new economic opportunities for people on the ground.

This should include the withdrawal from Area C [an area of the West Bank that remains under Israeli control] and the halting of settlement building and land confiscation.

There should be an emphasis overall on at least reaching a compromise that will restore confidence in the peace process. The alternative is so hard and risky.

Maath Musleh, 27, Palestinian, Beit Safafa, Jerusalem

The Palestinian leadership do not represent the Palestinian people. So they know these talks are futile.

They are just protecting their interests and hoping to at least prolong the current status quo.

The Israeli government also know this is futile and are just stalling. Months of talks will mean that their settlement plans can move forward with less scrutiny.

Before any talks can proceed, all Palestinian refugees must be granted their right of return. Those who wish to return home must be allowed to do so.

The military occupation should end, all restraints on people's rights should be lifted, and all violations of human rights should be stopped at once.

Then you can go to the table and discuss the future of this land.

The peace process has been failing and will continue to fail for several reasons.

You have one side - Israel - who has the power, is supported by the US unconditionally, and has the protection of the international community, because any UN resolution that is not in favour of Israel will be vetoed by the US.

So they have nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, they are also being handed billions of dollars each year in military aid.

This so-called peace process is not based on justice, it is based on interests. It will fail because Israel is choosing who to negotiate with.

Meira, 70, Israeli, Jerusalem

In common with most of my friends and family, we regard the resumption of "talks about talks" as a waste of time.

We feel that John Kerry is just doing his duty in trying to push the Obama administration agenda.

But it also looks as if the Obama administration is once again trying to force the hand of the Israelis in order to forward the Americans' own foreign policy agenda, whatever that might be at the moment.

Since Mahmoud Abbas's term as formal head of the Palestinian Authority has long since expired and he has deeply hostile relations with the Hamas rulers of Gaza, it seems that he has no power to sign any valid documents with our representatives.

He also has much local opposition from his own people to any talks with the Israeli government.

It is obvious that the Palestinian Authority has not made any attempts to promote education for peaceful co-existence.

It is incapable of running its own affairs as an independent entity.

The main obstacles are clearly the continued and intensive brainwashing of the younger Palestinian generation to hate Israel and Jews.

Mr Abbas has yet again just declared that his state will not tolerate the presence of Jews. This is hardly a sign of any attempt at genuine peace-making.

Robin, 58, Israeli, settlement of Maale Adumim

These talks will likely go the way of all previous ones.

We don't have a partner for peace in either of the Palestinian leadership factions, which are as corrupt and inept as they always have been.

The Arab population would do far better as fully-fledged citizens of Israel. We would all benefit, socially, economically and spiritually.

I believe there are enough Arabs who have no interest in bolstering this division any longer. They want to raise their kids and have a normal life.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have no interest in collaborative effort.

The money that has poured into the Palestinian Authority has not gone to build schools or improve infrastructure.

Heba Abdulsalam al-Hayek, 19, Palestinian, Gaza

I don't think these talks will achieve anything.

The history of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations speaks for itself, and it will never fulfil the minimum requirements of the Palestinian people - our basic right to self-determination.

So anything that is achieved will be superficial and won't serve the Palestinian people's cause. It will only serve the Palestinian Authority's interests.

Ideally, these discussions would address the refugee issue, the issue of prisoners and the continuing land demolition and confiscation, which never ends.

They would also discuss our ability and right to visit any place in our land, without Israeli permission, in addition to the basic human rights that we are denied. But this is not going to happen in these talks.

They will not be any different from the previous ones. Yes, there may be some formal or temporary changes announced, but no major achievements, such as granting us our rights, as we would hope.

Interviews by Stephen Fottrell.