Wednesday, October 7, 2009

US's Big Guns to Get Peace Talks Moving

US Peace envoy Mitchell will be arriving in the middle east on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 and it's expected he's going to bring out the big guns to ensure that peace talks start again. It should be said, this time those guns really do seem pretty big.

According to sources in Jerusalem, it is expected that since the US lobbied so hard to make the potentially damaging Goldstone report on the war against Hamas disappear, they're expecting that Israel now owes them something. That something, will be to listen-up, do as the US suggests and get peace talks back on track.

This comes amidst warning from the President of Egypt that the region cannot 'afford' failed peace talks and that it was silly to resume talks anywhere other than where they left off under the Olmert government. These days, however, Netanyahu is saying that he's not bound by what Olmert did during his time as Prime Minister or, in other words, that he's not bound by Annapolis. Mr. Mubarak has this one right. Israel should pick up where it left off with any adjustments necessary to reflect any new realities that may exist. Beginning at square one when much has already been agreed upon is a waste of time and energies. In Egypt's view, the next step along the path is for Israel to freeze all settlement building.

Meanwhile, Abbas, who has elected not to pursue the Goldstone report with the UN has also cautioned Israel to start meaningful peace talks or risk having the report revived. This really translates to: "freeze settlements or we'll take Goldstone's report to the UN." This is because the Palestinians have predicated new peace talks on a full Israeli freeze of all settlement activity. Assuming there has not been a change of heart by Abbas, it means that Israel is about to face crushing pressure from the US to do what it takes to restart peace talks and the PA may find themselves holding all the cards, able to dictate to Israel the preconditions for peace talks.

Meanwhile, in other, not obviously related news, Fatah and Hamas are about to reconcile their differences and US Secretary of State Clinton is pressuring Arab government to normalize ties with Israel. If Clinton is successful and if Hamas and Fatah really create a function unified Palestinian government, Israel will find itself very short on excuses for stalling, if that was what it had in mind.

Perhaps the circumstances have come together in just the right mix to encourage meaningful talks to begin.

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