Israel-Palestine Analysis: US Declares "Fresh Start" Despite Failure over Israeli Settlements and Palestinian Recogntion
Reacting to recognition of the Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders by Brazil and Argentina, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon fumed on his Facebook page:
The recent declaration to recognize a Palestinian state only harms the peace process, because it merely encourages the Palestinians to keep digging in and hoping the miracle will somehow descend from the heavens or from the international community, that will impose some kind of accord on Israel.
In contrast, the Palestinian front is satisfied with the progress it sees in Latin America moves. A source in the PA Foreign Ministry told The Jerusalem Post that several other countries, including Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay will follow Brazil and Argentina and the other 103 countries who have recognised the Palestinian state.
Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha’ath continued: “No one is saying that it would end the occupation immediately. But it gives us a push forward and will attract other countries to take a similar decision.” Hana Amireh, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, saw "a major political achievement for the Palestinians" and added, “This position reaffirms that the Palestinians won’t accept anything less than a sovereign state on all the territories that were occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.”
But what about the peace process itself, with the indirect talks and the short-lived direct discussions brokered by Washington? Specifically, what has happened with the US incentive package offered to Israel in return for a three-month freeze in the expansion of West Bank settlements?
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, said discussions over another moratorium had been suspended in the wake of the WikiLeaks crisis and the tensions between North and South Korea.
A senior Israeli official went further, declaring said that the talks over the settlements had reached a dead end, and West Jerusalem and Washington would find new ways to advance the peace process. A senior US official confirmed, "After consultation with the parties, we have determined that a moratorium extension will not at this time provide the best basis for resuming direct negotiations."
In the coming days and weeks we will engage with both sides on the core substantive issues as well as with Arab states and other international partners with the goal of working toward a framework on all permanent status issues.
The next apparent step is talks with Isaac Molho, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's special envoy. Molho is already in Washington and his counterpart in the Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erekat, is expected to head there as well.
So this is a fresh attempt at "proximity talks". According to US officials, it offers a dynamic irrespective of the past complications, be they over unilateral recognitions of a Palestinian state or a failure to freeze Israeli statements.
Hmm.... Before assessing this new start, I guess we should wait for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech at the Saban Forum in Washington on Friday.