Uri Savir writes: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprising turn in appointing Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, as defense minister May 25 caught the international community off-guard. In the days before the appointment, intense deliberations took place about the upcoming Quartet report on obstacles in the way of a two-state solution and the Paris conference to relaunch a two-state process. The deliberations were based on the assumption that Netanyahu was on his way to enlarging his government with the moderate center-left Zionist Camp and Isaac Herzog as foreign minister in charge of peace negotiations.
A senior official at EU headquarters dealing with the Middle East peace process told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that there was a new, although brief, sense of optimism in European capitals that Netanyahu would, at the very least, engage in the beginning of a two-state solution process and restrain settlement expansion.
These intense international deliberations included exchanges over US Secretary of State John Kerry’s participation at the Paris conference, which has now been rescheduled for June 3. [Continue reading…]