In an interview with Britain’s Jewish News about the current round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Israeli Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub said that Israelis have been burned by passed experiences with territorial concessions.
“Israelis feel very bruised… Every time we have given territory away, missiles have been fired at us,” he said in reference to past the experiences of withdrawing from Gaza and Lebanon respectively.
The Ambassador joked that the peace talks reminded him of Samuel Johnson’s thoughts on second marriage, saying: “It’s almost like a triumph of hope over experience.”
However, the ambassador told the paper that there was a mandate for negotiators to strike a deal. “The clear majority of Israelis are in favor of a two-state peace agreement, and there is an incentive for President Abbas because the UN approach hasn’t delivered,” he affirmed.
Taub believes Israel is ready to make concessions, pointing to the Israeli cabinet’s vote this week to release what he called “very, very brutal murderers.”
The ambassador said putting any deal to a referendum “would actually make it easier for the negotiators. They can now be creative in their thinking, because they know it will still need to go to the people, many of whom feel that they’ve been ill-served in the past.”
Jewish News also reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s long-term aide Frank Lowenstein, who helped get the parties to the table, has continued to play a key role in the meetings so far. To lead the talks, Kerry hand-picked Ambassador Martin Indyk, who grew up in a Jewish family in London before moving to Australia and then settling in the States. He worked for AIPAC and advised President Bill Clinton on Middle East matters before twice serving as US Ambassador to Israel between 1995 and 2001. Unconfirmed reports also cite the Pentagon’s Middle East adviser Ilan Goldenberg as playing a key role in the process.