Benyamin and his boys have said ‘nyet’ to an extension of the partial freeze deal on settlement construction in the West Bank. It ran out last week. Is this going to derail the talks? We don’t know yet. It all depends on the good will of the Palestinians – and perhaps a bit of behind the scenes reassurance from the Americans.
We’re all being kept in the dark as to what’s really going on in these talks. Nothing substantive has been given out – or leaked. Maybe the Americans are starting to turn the screw on the Israelis – which is not something Benyamin would like to be made public. If the talks do succeed, he wants to be seen as the great dealmaker, not someone who needs to have his thumbscrew wounds attended to.
What is becoming clear is that it looks as though a return to the pre1967 war borders is going to be impossible. A deal whereby the Palestinians get land of similar quality elsewhere in lieu of the illegal Israeli settlements, is becoming more of a possibility. This is probably an outcome both sides could live with, but time is running out.
The world is losing patience with Israel. Increasingly, Jews in countries across the world are deeply disturbed by what is being said and done in their name and impatient at the lack of progress to reach a settlement with the Palestinians. Many of them are distraught by the antics of AIPAC, America’s pro Israeli lobby, and organisations such as Conservative Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Israel who are distorting (corrupting) the political process through undue influence and money: their purpose to silence and suppress.
Israel has become a pariah state, a malignant tumour which is slowly destroying itself. It remains the number one threat to world peace. The Obama focus is needed if any real progress is to be achieved. The solution to this problem lies in American hands. It always has.
Interestingly, even the hardliners in Israel are beginning to realise that they need a solution. George Mitchell’s patience and skill plus firm pressure from the Mr President might just pull this one off.