Here in Jerusalem today Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's inner cabinet – the so-called 'forum of seven' is meeting to discuss US President Barak Obama's proposal to renew the construction freeze in the West Bank.
Netanyahu is attempting, it seems, to persuade these coalition ministers to support the idea of extending the construction freeze for an additional two months in exchange for US guarantees.
On the one hand America is to be commended in seeking a way forward for a lasting peace. On the other, Mr. Obama is fast running out of carrots to offer Israel on the end of his stick – and we haven't even begun addressing the real issues yet.
Some Palestinians are worried that Netanyahu will extend the freeze – receive the guarantees form the US – and then stall the peace process, allow building to continue, and have the upper hand in negotiations because of America's determination to forge a deal.
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has warned Israel's Prime Minister moments before the Arab League convened to discuss the continuation of the talks between Israel and Palestinians, that the collapse of the negotiations would ignite violence throughout world. But Mr. Netanyahu seems not concerned about that – but rather his political survival.
Despite the opposition from his own Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who last week gave an (his) alternative view to the Middle East peace process at the UN General Assembly. Mr. Liberman has been strongly criticized here in Israel. Some feel he expressed an open defiance against the Government. Others say Netanyahu will be loathe to dismiss him because he needs him for the Government to stay in tact – and Liberman knows it.
One commentary brought up that former US Secretary of State Dr. Henry, Kissinger accepted that Israel had no foreign policy other than internal politics. This may be the case.
But what if these peace talks, that are to lead to a Palestinian State, were to fail – what next? Things may well continue as they are and within a few decades there would be no chance for such and Israel will be faced with the choice of a bi-national state.
Middle East Correspondent