28 September '10
More than a year ago, Barack Obama stalled the ‘peace process’ by suggesting that construction inside existing Israeli settlements was ‘an obstacle to peace’.
The Palestinians immediately agreed with him, and refused to talk until ‘settlement activity’ stopped.
Obama applied pressure to Israel and succeeded in forcing it to agree to a 9-month freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria late last year. But it wasn’t good enough for the Palestinians, who still would not agree to negotiate.
In March of this year, the US administration took advantage of an announcement by a low-level clerk in Israel’s Housing Ministry that there were plans to construct 1,800 apartments in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem to orchestrate a rupture in relations with Israel. After Obama’s widely publicized humiliation of Benjamin Netanyahu (which he later denied), Israel agreed to freeze construction in East Jerusalem too, although no official announcement was made. There were further concessions, but the Palestinians still weren’t satisfied.
Finally, last month, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was persuaded to agree to direct talks with Israel. The talks so far have consisted of the PA making demands while refusing to agree that the outcome of talks will be “two states for two peoples.”
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