Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met and Netanyahu's Jerusalem home on Wednesday for the latest round of Israel-Palestine peace talks. Media coverage and pundit discussion of the peace process has largely focused on Israel's role, the ongoing Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, which Netanyahu recently pledged to continue after the official freeze ends. But what about the Palestine's role? From Abbas's leadership to the behavior of Hamas to the Syrian involvement in Palestinian territories, here's what people have to say about the Palestinian side of the peace equation.
'Whistle Past the Graveyard' Politico's Laura Rozen writes, "The Obama administration is counting on the fact that "nobody can afford to be blamed for walking out" on the talks, said former U.S. Middle East peace negotiator Aaron Miller. 'Each will give just enough -- don't ask, don't tell on settlements -- to get through this.' If it can persuade Abbas that 'Bibi is prepared to endorse some of the substantive ideas on territory -- blocs, swaps, etc;' and give them other assurances, 'it should be enough to whistle past this graveyard for awhile,' Miller said." Translation: Obama needs Abbas to ignore offenses for a while.
- Syria Can Help Roll Back Hamas The Christian Science Monitor's Nicholos Blanford writes Syria "play a crucial role" in the peace process. "With Gaza rocket fire and Israeli air strikes providing a potent reminder of Hamas's potential to destabilize Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, US envoy George Mitchell arrived in Syria today looking to secure broader regional support. ... [Hamas], whose political leaders are based in Syria, has spearheaded opposition to the peace process and is a bitter rival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The timing of Mitchell's trip to Syria, coming after a two-day summit between Mr. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has analysts surmising that he will ask Syria to discourage Hamas from upsetting the talks."
- Split Up West Bank, Gaza The Washington Post's Ori Z Soltes suggests a "three-state solution" that would establish two distinct Palestinian nations: Gaza and the West Bank. "For starters, this proposal would eliminate the main logistical complication pertaining to the communication between the two parts of the Palestinian state. The notion of creating a land corridor between Gaza and the West Bank, with a free flow of people and commerce between the two, seems ill-conceived as an on-the-ground practicality. ... Moreover, two separate states for Palestinians would accord more realistically with a key current political reality: Hamas controls Gaza and the Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank. Creating two separate states would allow each to develop according to its own plans."
- Ordinary Palestinians Can Make Themselves Heard Palestinian social media activist Arjan El Fassed tells Global Voices, "I have always felt that internet as a communication tool would help tremendously in getting voices of people heard, especially from people living in military closed areas. More broadly speaking, in the debate in mainstream media around various conflicts you hardly hear the voices of ordinary people. Whether in Afghanistan, Somalia or Palestine, the vast majority of people, ordinary women and men, are hardly listened to. What you hear are political and military leaders and some self-defined experts that talk about people, but you hardly hear the voices of ordinary Palestinians. People like you and me. Social media easily connects ordinary women and men in Palestine to ordinary men and women in the West."
- PLO Must Overpower Hamas The Washington Post's Jordan Sekulow writes, "so long as Hamas controls the Gaza Strip there will not be a Palestinian state encompassing the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas is now the greatest barrier to Palestinian statehood and peace in the region. ... Surely, there can be no comprehensive peace deal without all of the key players signing on. Until the terrorist regime of Hamas falls, peace talks between Israel and the somewhat powerless Palestinian Authority will lack substance and be little more than photo opportunities for US government leaders."