Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Peace Talks Scorecard

Hamas kills 4 innocent Israelis: Bad.
Hamas is making its presence known, but not swiftboating talks just yet. The peace talks are at -4 in terms of lives saved by the negotiations thus far.

Israel doesn't pull out/put more conditions on talks: Good.
Israel knows the US is watching, so pulling out is a non-option.

US condemns killing: Good.
Obama himself condemned the killing with Netanyahu at his side, and reiterated the American commitment to Israeli security. This is a very strong and positive message to Israel.

PA security forces arrest 150 in the wake of the killing: Good.
PA is showing it's committed to security. Likely the response would have been less strong without the US watching, but in light of circumstances its a good sign.

The key principle emerging is that both Israel and the Palestinians are changing their actions based on expectations set out by the United States. It will be up to the US to maintain expectations that encourage both sides to pursue and agreement. Hamas' attack has raised the stakes of failure for both sides. This may end up benefitting Hamas if they can successfully swiftboat the talks, but it also raises US expectations on both leaders to deliver, which may cause the killing to backfire.

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