February 21, 2014 | Quote
Gaza Left Out of Mideast Peace Talks
This crowded bit of Mediterranean shore is a long way from the closed-door rooms where Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are holding the first real peace talks in years.
But as Secretary of State John F. Kerry prepares to publicly present outlines of a proposed peace deal, the isolated and besieged Palestinian territory called the Gaza Strip is the rarely mentioned elephant in the bargaining room — a huge obstacle to a permanent settlement of the decades-old conflict.
Kerry has confined his peacemaking to Palestinians in the West Bank, a territory on the other side of Israel, and he envisions a deal signed by the moderate leadership there. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are governed by the militant Islamist Hamas movement, which opposes talks with Israel and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, and they are not part of the negotiations.
“Would it be deemed legitimate, in light of his tenuous position as president?” asked Jonathan Schanzer, a Mideast scholar at the D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“There is also a question of how long would it last if the deal hinges on his leadership,” Schanzer said.