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Room where it didn’t happen: US mediators reveal failed Israel-PLO peace talks

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Why, after more than a century of bloody conflict, have Israelis and Palestinians failed to reach a peace agreement? Israeli director Dror Moreh goes behind closed doors of the sincere, though largely failed efforts spearheaded by the United States by interviewing a handful of the American negotiators in his new documentary, “The Human Factor,” opening January 22 in the US.

This past November marked the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by right-wing Jewish extremist Yigal Amir. Moreh sees this as a fitting time to reflect on the derailment of the peace process Rabin worked so hard on. He does so from the unique perspective of the Americans who devoted decades of their careers trying to create a more secure and tranquil Middle East.

Moreh, whose work often focuses on geopolitics, is the director of the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated 2012 “The Gatekeepers.” In it, he conducted unprecedented on-camera interviews with all six former heads of Israel’s secret service — the Shin Bet — who were still living at the time.

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In “The Human Factor,” we hear from well-known figures special Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, Ambassador Martin Indyk, Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, State Department analyst Aaron David Miller, special assistant to president Bill Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs Robert Malley, and State Department interpreter and Middle East advisor Gamal Helal. Most of these men have penned books sharing their insights on the peace process, but now they collectively reflect on what went right and wrong.

“The Human Factor” tracks in detail the diplomatic maneuvers carried out by American delegations at the behests of presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton from the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference through to the failed Camp David summit in July 2000. Dror Moreh (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

When asked why he ended the film just ahead of the bloody Second Intifada, Moreh, 59, told The Times of Israel that he didn’t believe there was any positive momentum to portray beyond that. (In a related, upcoming six-part series for Israeli television, the filmmaker does bring the unresolved saga fully up to date.)

“The last effort to really reach an agreement was at Camp David. Everything that came after that was just a........

© The Times of Israel

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