Could Israeli-Palestinian talks bring peace?

Direct Middle East peace talks got under way today in Washington.

Secretary of State Clinton today formally kicked off a major effort to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Since every US president since Richard Nixon has tried – and failed – to achieve a lasting peace, there's a healthy degree of skepticism, even cynicism about these talks. But as the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi reported this week, conditions may be ripe for progress. A big reason why is that President Obama is committing to this effort early in his term:

Under other presidents, Levy says, a one-year deadline for reaching a settlement could be scoffed at – as when George W. Bush launched the Annapolis process – because it generally came when the president had only a year or so left in office. But Obama’s case is different, coming so early in a first term, he says.

“It’s different when you’re in your last year of an administration,” Levy says. “But if your one-year deadline butts up against the beginning of your reelection campaign, [it] does create a different order of magnitude of self-created political pressure.”

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