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UNL News Blog

Archive for April, 2014

Expert Alert: UNL’s Ari Kohen discusses breakdown of peace talks between Israel and Palestine

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

One day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced a reconciliation between his majority Fatah party and Hamas, Israel broke off  its peace talks with the Palestinians.

The  Israeli announcement Thursday effectively ends more than a year of U.S.-backed negotiations to establish an independent Palestine.  Israeli Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that he would “never negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by terrorist organizations committed to our destruction.”

Some observations from Ari Kohen, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln political scientist who teaches courses on Israel and the Middle East, restorative justice and political philosophy at the Harris Center for Judaic Studies:

– “We should be honest about a few things here,” he said. “These were ‘peace talks’ in name only; they hadn’t been leading anywhere and they weren’t going to lead anywhere.”

–  Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas could benefit Israel and the peace process if it forces Hamas to focus on politics instead of militancy. “Ignoring Hamas or pretending it’s impossible to negotiate with them is just bluster for its own sake, or for the sake of delaying.”

– “Israel’s policy of expanding settlements while the peace process stagnates is a long-term loser for the country, though the Netanyahu government either doesn’t understand this or is pretending not to.”  It leaves less territory for a Palestinian state and makes it less likely that any Palestinian government can reach a peace deal, Kohen says.

For more details, visit Kohen’s blog at

To contact Kohen for interviews, call 402-770-5647 or email at

Ari Kohen


537 Oldfather Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588
Phone: (402) 472-8192

Ari Kohen is a political scientist who teaches courses on Israel and the Middle East, restorative justice, and political philosophy at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research focuses principally on classical and contemporary political thought. His first book examined the philosophical grounding of the idea of human rights; his current book project looks at the ways in which we think about heroic behavior and the most choice-worthy lives.