Barack Obama on brink of deal for Middle East peace talks – updated

Barack Obama on brink of deal for Middle East peace talks

Barack Obama is close to brokering an Israeli-Palestinian deal that will allow him to announce a resumption of the long-stalled Middle East peace talks before the end of next month, according to US, Israeli, Palestinian and European officials.

Key to bringing Israel on board is a promise by the US to adopt a much tougher line with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme. The US, along with Britain and France, is planning to push the United Nations security council to expand sanctions to include Iran’s oil and gas industry, a move that could cripple its economy.

In return, the Israeli government will be expected to agree to a partial freeze on the construction of settlements in the Middle East. In the words of one official close to the negotiations: “The message is: Iran is an existential threat to Israel; settlements are not.” [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — A US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian deal – in other words, how Obama got shafted by Netanyahu and the Palestinians and Iran’s reformist movement got thrown under the bus, all for what? A little Clinton-era nostalgia in the form of a Rose Garden handshake between Netanyahu and Abbas while Rahm Emanuel gets to re-live the good old nineties?

Updated: Perhaps a hasty judgment on my part.

Laura Rozen writes: “In meetings with news editors in London Monday, Netanyahu seemed to describe Israeli and U.S. positions moving closer together on a settlements deal, policy towards Iran, and other issues, according to sources familiar with the discussion.”

I thus infer that The Guardian, having been honored to be able to sit at Bibi’s feet, thought that they should thereafter try and perform like his parrot.

Why Israel will thwart Obama on settlements

The idea that the Obama administration can advance the Middle East peace process by having Israel freeze its construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank stretches credulity.

Does any serious observer of the region believe that Israel’s appetite for land – owned and occupied for generations by Palestinians – is going to abate?

The Israeli land grab has continued for four decades, in defiance of international law and most US presidents. US Middle East envoy George Mitchell has been trying to secure a halt, but his efforts follow a well-worn path that typically ends in charade. [continued…]

Palestinians seek state by 2011

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad released a government plan Tuesday calling for the establishment of a de facto Palestinian state by the end of 2011 regardless of the outcome of negotiations with Israel.

The plan faces significant practical hurdles and raised worries that Mr. Fayyad was advocating the sort of unilateral actions toward statehood long opposed by the U.S. and Israel. Implementing it would mean overcoming likely Israeli opposition to key elements and Mr. Fayyad’s own weak domestic political standing, and would also require hefty financial-aid commitments from foreign donors, such as the U.S., European Union, and Arab states.

But the plan also reflected an unprecedented Palestinian emphasis on the nuts and bolts of self-rule. It lays out the broad outlines of a state on Palestinian lands occupied by Israel in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, and details each government ministry and its functions. [continued…]

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