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Middle East peace an elusive goal

Editorial

At least they’re willing to talk.

Attempt after attempt has been made to arrive at some sort of peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that will stick. So far, uneasy, fragile truces are about all anyone has been able to come up with. The underlying hatred and distrust have never been eradicated and, we have to say, we’re pessimistic that they ever will be.

The potential payoff of what such an agreement would have on the hottest of the world’s hot spots for violence, however, means that best efforts to reach the elusive goal have to be pursued.

That’s why we were happy to see that the Obama administration appears to have been successful in coaxing Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace talks. Secretary of State John Kerry has been conducting quite a bit of so-called shuttle diplomacy on resuming those talks, and the effort looks like it may pay off.

White House officials say they expect to schedule a time in the next few weeks when representatives of Israel, Palestine and the United States can meet to discuss peace issues. And it appears President Barack Obama has a firm grasp on how difficult the process will be.

Seeking Middle East peace, White House spokesman Jay Carey said Monday, has been “an enormous challenge for Israelis and Palestinians and for successive administrations here in Washington, but the fact that it has been such a difficult challenge does not mean that it should not constantly be addressed.”

Given the track record of failures, some could bring up the oft-quoted line attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In this case, however, doing nothing and allowing a festering boil to grow worse with no attempts at intervention would be the truly insane approach.

If these peace talks resume — there is always a possibility that something could flash up in the region to derail them before an agenda is set — they will be the first in three years. Negotiations came to a screeching halt in 2010 over Israel’s settlement activity on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

There’s a very real chance that the talks will end up being just that — talks and little more. But it’s a cinch that no positive resolution can come if the two sides are not talking at all.

For every American administration, having a hand in resolving this complex conflict that elicits so much passion from all sides is an enticing objective, a brass ring that always seems just out of reach. Achieving it would go a long way toward defining the success of an administration for future generations.

We wish Obama the best as he reaches for that elusive ring.