WORD LISTS

A Quick Current Events Quiz: "Balking" & "Reneging" in Middle East Peace Process

April 9, 2014
Follow news of stalling Middle East negotiations from a vocabularian's perspective by learning 10 words from this week's New York Times new coverage.

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balk
If you're walking a dog, and it suddenly stops, the dog is balking, a word which means to stop following a direction or a plan. Here, it's being used to describe Israel and the Palestinians, who are no longer sticking with peace conditions they'd agreed to in negotiations.
The breakdown involved both sides balking on conditions set when the American-brokered negotiations started last summer.
--A Peace Process in Which Process Has Come to Outweigh Peace, The New York Times, Apr. 4, 2014
condition
This word is at the heart of Middle East, or any, negotiation. It means something you say must happen before something else. Want the cookie? You can have it on one condition: you eat every bite of spinach.
The breakdown involved both sides balking on conditions set when the American-brokered negotiations started last summer.
--A Peace Process in Which Process Has Come to Outweigh Peace, The New York Times, Apr. 4, 2014
broker
You may be familiar with a real estate broker, a person who brings together a buyer or renter with a seller or landlord. Here, where the U.S. is brokering, or bringing together two parties, the deal at stake is peace in the Middle East, not a condo with a fireplace and a ten minute commute to downtown.
The breakdown involved both sides balking on conditions set when the American-brokered negotiations started last summer.
--A Peace Process in Which Process Has Come to Outweigh Peace, The New York Times, Apr. 4, 2014
faction
A faction is a group within a group. At school, if the whole happy-high-school-cheerleader-jock mentality turns your stomach, you might join the all-black-wearing-nihilistic-bumper-sticker-favoring faction of kids just waiting for the four years to be over.
Mr. Netanyahu is hamstrung by deep divisions in his governing coalition and his own Likud Party, while Mr. Abbas is straitjacketed by the rift between the West Bank and Gaza, as well as discord within his own Fatah faction.
--A Peace Process in Which Process Has Come to Outweigh Peace, The New York Times, Apr. 4, 2014
isolation
If you live in a state of isolation, you might have no friends, no contact with other people; you might not even go online. This is a sad way to be individually. For a country whose economy depends on trade with other nations, isolation can be disastrous.
For Israelis facing a growing boycott movement, negotiations can stave off international isolation.
--A Peace Process in Which Process Has Come to Outweigh Peace, The New York Times, Apr. 4, 2014
brink
Brink can mean a cliff or an edge. Peace negotiations being at the "the brink of breakdown" suggests that one or both parties is about to walk away from the table.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators planned to meet with an American mediator on Monday for the second straight day in an effort to salvage the Middle East peace talks, which were pushed to the brink of breakdown last week.
--Israelis and Palestinians Ask U.S. Envoy for New Meeting, The New York Times, Apr. 7, 2014
constructive
Think of construction as the act of building and you'll be able to remember that constructive means helping to build. Constructive criticism helps you make changes rather than just breaking you down. Constructive negotiations lead toward the building of an agreement.
A statement from the American Consulate in Jerusalem described a session on Sunday night as “serious and constructive.”
--Israelis and Palestinians Ask U.S. Envoy for New Meeting, The New York Times, Apr. 7, 2014
unilateral
You know that a unicycle only has one wheel, right? And that you say "Uno" in the card game of the same name when you're down to a single card? Then you shouldn't have a problem guessing that uni in unilateral means "one," which will help you remember that the word overall means "one-sided."
Mr. Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would take its own “unilateral steps” in response to the Palestinians’ move last week to join 15 international treaties and conventions and reiterated that a Palestinian state could be created “only through direct negotiations, not through empty statements and not by unilateral moves.”
--Israelis and Palestinians Ask U.S. Envoy for New Meeting, The New York Times, Apr. 7, 2014
renege
Renege means to go back on a promise. Which any marriage counselor will tell you is very bad practice for anyone trying to build back trust into a relationship.
The Palestinians said they took the contentious step only because Israel reneged on a promise to release a group of long-serving prisoners by the end of March, breaking its own commitment as part of the negotiations.
--Israelis and Palestinians Ask U.S. Envoy for New Meeting, The New York Times, Apr. 7, 2014
convene
Convene means to gather formally. You convene governments or councils. You don't convene your group of friends if you just happen to bump into them and decide to grab a coffee.
Ms. Livni, the justice minister, who has been leading the negotiations for the Israelis, accused the housing minister, Uri Ariel, of deliberately sabotaging the process by publishing tenders for 700 new apartments in Gilo, a Jewish area of East Jerusalem, on Tuesday, even as Mr. Netanyahu was preparing to convene the cabinet to discuss a new deal to extend negotiations.
--Israelis and Palestinians Ask U.S. Envoy for New Meeting, The New York Times, Apr. 7, 2014

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Wednesday June 4th, 1:54 PM
Comment by: Teh Epik Duck (NC)
hi

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