Last week’s announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that direct Israeli-Palestinian talks will restart Sept. 2, after a nearly two-year gap, is being greeted with caution if not downright skepticism. Just weeks earlier, Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg stirred up a storm when he reported, following interviews with Israeli “decision-makers,” that “there is a better than 50 percent chance” that Israel will launch a military strike against Iran by next July. The timing seems anything but coincidental.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are to begin the direct talks in Washington, after individual meetings with President Obama and a state dinner the day before. Even the most optimistic commentators say the talks face enormous obstacles.