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November 14, 2013

Mideast Peace Talks Complicated by Tensions


New efforts to reach a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians have hit a stumbling block before they have really begun. In July, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the restart of Israeli-Palestinian talks, aimed at reaching a two-state solution by next May.

Last week, during a trip to Bethlehem, he warned of what could happen if negotiations fail.

“The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?” he asked. The First and Second Intifadas were periods of violent Palestinian uprising against Israeli presence in the Palestinian Territories.

The two-state solution sought by the parties at the negotiating table would divide Israel into two countries, Israel and Palestine, by creating a separate sovereign state in the Palestinian-claimed areas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is ready to negotiate and blamed past failures on the Palestinians.

“I’m concerned about their progress, because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitements, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid and run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace,” he said.

However, days later Israel’s Housing Ministry announced plans to build 24,000 new homes in disputed territory. Israeli settlements in disputed areas have long been a sticking point in peace negotiations, as Palestinians view these efforts as part of the occupation. Although Netanyahu quickly halted the move saying it would cause unnecessary confrontation, Palestine’s chief negotiator said he and his team are resigning in protest.

Warm up questions
  1. What is the relationship between Israel and Palestine?
  2. What is the relationship between the United States and Israel?
  3. Have there been attempts at peace talks before between the two sides?
Discussion questions
  1. What do you think needs to happen in order for the Israelis and Palestinians to be able to reach peace?
  2. What are some ways that an agreement can be reached when both sides distrust each other and are wary of future promises that may be broken?
  3. Should Israel be able to continue creating new settlements in disputed terratory? Who could stop them? What should be done about the settlements?
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