Israel and the Palestinian Authority have commenced peace talks in secret.
If the talks prove successful and the ancient enemies — the Israelis and the Palestinians — actually forge a working peace agreement, I have a candidate for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize: Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry managed to persuade the two sides to restart talks that would seek a so-called “two-state solution” to the longstanding conflict. The Palestinians want an independent state next to Israel. The Israelis are now talking about that outcome being acceptable — under certain conditions. One of them would be that the Palestinians would stop shelling Israeli homes. The two sides have until October to seal the deal.
Meanwhile, Kerry and the Israelis will need to hammer out some solution to the continuing construction of settlements in territory that Israel captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. The Palestinians say the settlements are a barrier to a peace agreement; the Israelis say they are necessary to keep the Palestinians at bay.
I’m not an expert on Israeli-Palestinian relations, but I have seen up close just how precarious the situation is within Israel. I’ve visited cities — such as Sderot and Ashkelon — that have been shelled by Palestinians living in Gaza I understand the Israelis’ fear of continuing attacks on civilians. I’ve been able to peer into Gaza from just outside the region’s border with Israel.
Gaza is governed by Hamas, the infamous terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Whatever comes out of these peace talks, there must be some accounting for how to handle Hamas and to reel in the terrorists who continue to rein violence down on Israel.
Secretary Kerry has many decades of international experience under his belt. He knows the players on both sides personally. The civilized world, therefore, should be pulling for a successful resolution to these talks. Peace must come to the Holy Land.
If it does, John Kerry should start working on his Peace Prize acceptance speech.