At Mideast Peace Talks, a Lopsided Table - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley (Washington Post)
- Staggering asymmetries between the Israelis and Palestinians could seriously imperil the talks. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is the head of a stable state with the ability to deliver on his commitments. Celebrations of supposed institution-building notwithstanding, Palestinians have no robust central authority. Their territory is divided between the West Bank and Gaza. On their own, Palestinians would find it difficult to implement an agreement.
- Participation in direct talks was opposed by virtually every Palestinian political organization aside from Fatah, whose support was lethargic. Abbas' decision to come to Washington is viewed skeptically even by those who back him. If Abbas reaches a deal, many will ask in whose name he was bartering away Palestinian rights. If negotiations fail, most will accuse him of once more having been duped. Abbas will be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
- The demographic threat - the possibility that Arabs soon might outnumber Jews, forcing Israel to choose between remaining Jewish or democratic - is exaggerated. Israel already has separated itself from Gaza. In the future, it could unilaterally relinquish areas of the West Bank, further diminishing prospects of an eventual Arab majority.
Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St. Antony's College at Oxford University. Robert Malley is Middle East program director at the International Crisis Group and was special assistant to the president for Arab-Israeli affairs from 1998 to 2001.
Source: summary by dailyalert.org on Sept. 2, 2010 . Article from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/01/AR2010090105656.html