The talks continue… we had no rupture at Sharm el-Sheik, but obviously disagreements remain and the parties are working.
During US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres she said “It is clear to Israel why the Palestinians want a sovereign state.” According to Peres, the Middle East region has changed and Iran's shadow is hovering over it.
But this shared optimism that accompanied President Peres's and Secretary Clinton's meeting made no impression on the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip – with mortar and rocket firing continuing.
But these talks are not going to be sidetracked by the terrorists cheap attempts to derail them – these talks are more than just photo ops. All signs point to significant contacts between Israeli and Palestinian teams. Supposedly on the agenda right now are borders, the Jewish settlement blocs, and timetables.
Apparently there is some new initiative floating at the table. It would probably be most easily explained as a new disengagement form the West Bank involving the dismantling of settlements without Israel's military withdrawing from the area.
But despite American satisfaction of the two sides “Discussing everything”, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is still demanding the extention of the construction freeze, Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu saying the freeze is to end.
Mrs. Clinton's proposal to extend the settlement freeze for an additional three months is now public – but the Prime Minister's Bureau is saying that they will not refer to the content of the peace talks.
The idea of extending the freeze for a further three months is to buy time for drafting up the borders of the future Palestinian State. Obviously if those are agreed to – the freeze becomes less of an issue because the land will be officially recognized as Palestinian as opposed to Israeli controlled.
Like any diplomatic process, concessions will need to be made to reach the goal. Summits often follow the format of ups and downs, or downs and ups. At Sharm a-Sheik it started from down to up…The American administration wanted smiling faces, and got them. Then there was the 'pleasant' unplanned meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas – and things are proceeding.
As long as there are more meetings, the relationships between the two sides will grow more trusting and the atmosphere will allow for real change.
We are looking for a concession by one of the sides on a core issue. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas have yet come to that place of making a concession, but they are headed in that direction under the watchful eyes of Mrs. Clinton.
Tune in to the Harvest Show for my live update tomorrow from here in Jerusalem!
Middle East Correspondent