An Israeli Expert on Middle East Peace in Syracuse Tuesday Night has a hopeful take on recent negotiations going on now, brokered by the Obama administration. Gershon Baskin is a former advisor to Israeli prime ministers and started a research organization to work on peace issues. Baskin believes recent progress and willingness to make concessions can pay off in an agreement.
“Every other outcome is bad for Israel, is bad for Palestinians, and this is perhaps the first time that we’ve come to that clear conclusion. It seems that both the leaders, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas on the Palestinian side, understand that every other possible alternative to a negotiated agreement is bad for them. We have the parties talking the hard issues in more depth than ever before.”
Baskin believes the hardest issue for Israel will be a joint and open Jerusalem, while Palestinians will find it difficult to give up the right to return to ancestral lands. But by his assessment, the people of both cultures are ready for a solution.
“[There is] greater acceptance by both sides of the concessions that need to be made. If we have an agreement on the table perceived as being fair, we’ll have majorities of 60-70% support from both publics behind the agreement. But now because of the long term failure that has produce a great deal of violence and suffering, has created a situation on both sides where we have the same 60-70 % of Israelis and Palestinians who simply don’t believe it’s possible.”
He credits Secretary of State John Kerry with getting both sides in the room for the first time in years hoping to come up with a framework by the end of April. Baskin speaks at Syracuse University’s Schine Student Center tonight starting at 7:00.
Gershon Baskin wrote a book detailing struggles leading to the freeing of the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit from Hamas. He was a behind-the-scenes negotiator for Israel. The book is titled, The Negotiator.