Lets continue following the drama in the news about Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's back and forth comments regarding the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
During Secretary Clinton's visit to Israel she said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal on settlements was unprecedented. So after months of discussions, it seems that the Obama Administration was backing down on it's demand for a full construction freeze in the settlements.
Clinton made it clear: the settlement freeze is not a condition to restart negotiations. With that said, Mr. Netanyahu announced that he was ready for an immediate resumption to negotiations and cast all the blame on the Palestinians for not coming to the table.
Needless to say the Palestinians were outraged – after what they had understood from the US President – a turning point in the approach towards resolving issues to create peace. They went on to say that the US had violated its commitments regarding the settlement freeze. Thus Palestinian Authority Chairman Mohmoud Abbas rejected the American compromise proposal and still refuses to resume negotiations without a freeze.
But the funny thing in all this is that Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman said to Secretary Clinton that there is: “nothing to talk about with the Palestinians.” Well, one need not be a political pundit to figure out that the only winner in a scenario like this is Hamas – and at that with Palestinian elections around the corner. For those who believe that Israel does not want to make peace – they just received fuel for their fire, because the deadlock in negotiations only serves Hamas.
However, from here, Mrs. Clinton flew straight into the hornets nest in Morocco on Monday before the Arab world's Foreign Ministers, where she, at no surprise, sought to tone down her statements made just hours earlier.
She read from a written statement that Israel has done a few things ment to renew the peace talks, but that they needed to do much more.
She went on to say that the United States did not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements – but that is a long held position that holds no real power. She also said Israel will not build new settlements nor expropriate land, nor allow for new construction, or permits – but these things have been said before as Israel often cites that it's plans were in the works years ago and therefore do not apply.
Clinton praised Abbas for having “shown leadership and determination on this issue” and then called on Israel to reciprocate – the problem there is that Abbas will probably not be re-elected and the US is seen by some as allowing for this.
Perhaps, Mr. Obama demanded more from Mr. Netanyahu than he was able to deliver, or maybe Israel wants a civil conflict to explode among the Palestinians, or – as it is clear, there is simply not enough weight behind Mr. Abbas for him to act. What ever it may be, we do not have a peace process and it doesn't look like we will till after the Palestinian Elections January 24th – if by chance, Mr. Abbas is re-elected.
Middle East Correspondent