All-Star Panel: Will new Mideast peace talks be effective?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 29, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I know the negotiations are going to be tough, but I also know that the consequences of not trying could be worse. We will be very fortunate to have on our team, on a day-to-day basis, working with the parties, wherever they are negotiating, a seasoned American diplomat, Ambassador Martin Indyk.

MARTIN INDYK, MIDDLE EAST ENVOY: Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas have made the tough decisions required to come back to the negotiating table.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Ambassador Martin Indyk will run the peace talks as the U.S. negotiator, an effort Secretary of State John Kerry has really spearheaded.  He took six trips to the Middle East in recent months. And now the talks are beginning. What about these talks and what we can see from them? We are back with our panel. Charles, your thoughts?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The fundamental issue is whether the Palestinians will sign a final agreement. They will sign interim agreements, and they have dozens of them, but a final agreement that accepts a Jewish state. And they have never done that. They were offered that in 2000, 2001, and 2008, extremely generous terms, and every time they walked away.

And I think that remains the problem. The Israelis, interestingly, Netanyahu and his government are very interested in the final agreement.  They have a sense that history is running away from them. The conditions, the terms they would achieve today, I believe, are probably stronger than they would be in the future. But the Palestinians, every day that passes, they get support from the EU and from others. They stand pat and everybody rewards them. They are going to have the release of prisoners here. I think that's the stumbling block, and I don't think there is any indication that the Palestinians have shifted in their objective, which is ultimately all of the land of Palestine.

BAIER: Julie, is there a sense in the administration that there is real hope here or this is kind of running through the process?

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think there is certainly some hope there. I think that there is a lot of realism though that we have been -- talk about deja vu. We have been through this process countless times before. And a lot of same issues on the table that Charles mentioned, you can also add in there Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements. These are the same issues that always create the stumbling blocks. So there is some realism that if you are going to get beyond these initial phase, these opening negotiations, you are going to have to solve those. I don't think at this point there is a lot of hope that we are going to do that in the near term. They certainly are going to give it a shot though.

BAIER: Jonah, is the Palestinian Authority in a place, as Charles mentioned, that makes it legitimate to negotiate on all of these points, considering the breakup of Hamas and Gaza? And can they deliver if you finally get to this final agreement stage?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Yeah. I think the final agreement stages -- these are talks to talk about how they are going to talk about talking, right? And I thought it was very telling had you a clip earlier in the program where you had a Palestinian official calling it blackmail that the Israelis were going to release convicted murderers of women and children on a slower timetable than the Palestinians want. If your mindset is that an outrageous release of prisoners isn't happening fast enough is blackmail, that is not a great mindset to going into negotiations.

I think this is -- I think Charles is absolutely right that the conditions among the Palestinians are such that it makes it very difficult to see how they get to a final agreement on all of this. The only thing that could change is this relationship between -- that Hamas has lost the Muslim Brotherhood. If Hamas gets truly gelded by this process, you could see some movement somewhere. But I just don't see John Kerry being the shepherd to do it.

KRAUTHAMMER: Except that Hamas had negotiations with Iran over the weekend exactly in response to the loss of the patron in Cairo. And Hamas represents Gaza. It opposes Abbas. And remember, Abbas, speaking of legitimacy, is in the ninth year of a four year term it. So, he doesn't have a lot of legitimacy. Elections were supposed to happen five years ago around the time Obama was elected. It hasn't happened. He speaks on behalf really of no one.

So this is -- look, it's a dance. We have done it before. That they're speaking is OK, but anybody who holds out hope that this is going to be the final status, as Kerry announced in these opening of the talks, I think is living on the moon.

BAIER: Meantime, the violence in Egypt is still a major concern for this administration and for that region. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for some features that your GPS probably does not have.

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