Israel made what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called "unprecedented" gestures to get the peace process back on track. But the Palestinians refused, and instead introduced new hard-line positions. So, naturally, Washington and other international peace brokers are going to appease the Palestinians amid their most recent tantrum and adopt their new positions.
That according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who told the pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat this week that the Palestinian refusal to conduct unconditional talks had forced the Obama Administration to stop relying on Israeli gestures, and instead force Israel to fully accept Arab demands.
"Once they realized their earlier approach had failed, the Americans see themselves forced to change direction," said Gheit.
The new peace initiative, which, according to Gheit, will be spearheaded by the US, Egypt and France, will be based on Israel implementing a full building freeze in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem at the outset of talks and a commitment by Israel to recognize a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, effectively prejudging the outcome of the negotiations.
Those conditions are fully in line with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' new positions, which he introduced days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implemented a partial 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in order to facilitate a return to the negotiating table. The US at first praised Netanyahu's decision, and indirectly accused Abbas of holding up the peace process.
But as in the past, the US and international power brokers realize they cannot strong-arm the Palestinians without risking other regional assets, so they will apparently once again strong-arm Israel, which will upset no-one.
US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to arrive in the coming weeks to get the new peace process rolling.
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