The price of failure for both sides has risen considerably. In the past, leaders of both sides have felt able to walk away without paying a heavy political price. But now, both Israelis and Palestinians are very aware that a host of very negative consequences could follow a failure. As Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote in July: “What Kerry has done, in effect, is get the two sides to grab hold of a stick of dynamite. If they can’t defuse it within nine months through an agreement, it’s going to blow up.”
For the Palestinians, failure of the talks could spark an economic meltdown, a possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the strengthening of Hamas, the Islamist militant group ruling in Gaza.
For Israel, it would lead to growing diplomatic isolation and the prospect of the worldwide boycott and disinvestment movement gathering steam. A recent move by the European Community to stop funding or dispensing awards and grants to Israeli companies, public bodies, and organizations working in settlements in the occupied territories was a sign of what may lie ahead. Mr. Netanyahu was said to have been profoundly shocked by the announcement.