(This is a guest post from my friend, Ron, who lived in Palestine – Bethlehem, specifically – for 15 months. That is where I met him last year. Ron has a tremendous heart for the Palestinian people (I have seem him cry when he talks about their hardships) and many of them call him their friend. I asked him to write a guest blog post regarding the current Middle East peace talks. Note: guest posts are for the purpose of creating fresh thought and dialogue and do not necessarily represent my views.)

To Mark and other readers of this blog,

I pray for a just peace. I am not very optimistic for the talks in Washington, though. I hope for the best, but am skeptical of the outcome. I don’t feel that the USA is an objective partner, who might be counted upon to place enough pressure on Israel to redress the large power imbalance between the partners in the talks. If the USA were objective, it would have already applied more pressure to Israel to stop the settlement enterprise, for example.

My concern is that the USA, having pressured the Palestinians into these talks, will enable Israel to place demands on the Palestinians that don’t meet the Palestinians’ (or the international community’s) standards of fairness and justice. The Palestinians, would then face two choices: One, accept and try to build life on a less than acceptable solution. Two, reject what they determine is not an acceptable compromise.

If they go with the second option, I think the game is over. That would be the final straw that the US and Israel need to build the perception in the world community that everything possible has been offered to the Palestinians, and that the Palestinians have again rejected it. This will reinforce the perception that many in the world community held since the Camp David Accords. That perception would be that once again, the Palestinians have been handed a most generous offer, and they turned it down. Obviously, then, there would be no reasonable partner for peace. Much of the international community, I believe, is becoming wearied of this conflict. They have invested a good bit of hope in the return to peace negotiations. If, in their mind, the negotiations have failed, I believe there would be a significant reduction in the number of those who have the stamina to invest further resources to seeing the resolution through to further levels. Many, I suspect, would further marginalize the Palestinian community. Any further calls for justice on the part of the Palestinians would be rejected as absolutists whining, after they had been given an offer and rejected it. Israel would receive enough empathy in the international community to allow them to move ahead with their plan for building further facts on the ground that would eventually provide little options for the Palestinian presence in the land. I suspect this all part of the political calculations among Israeli leaders, going into these negotiations. I have this uncomfortable sense that this may be the make it or break it moment for the future of the Palestinians. This is what my mind tells me, analyzing this from a historical view. In my heart, I am praying that justice will rise to new and acceptable levels. I do not have much trust in the worldly brokers of the negotiations. But, I must remember to see, in my spirit, God’s presence at the table.

(Postscript: you can read more of Ron’s views at his website and blog: http://joronjubilee.com/)