The situation in Libya continues to concern all in the region, and now more internationally, as Colonel Muammar Gadhafi continues to loose ground to the demonstrators against his regime and up the violence against them.
But today I want to go back to the very important vote at the UN last weekend over the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Because of the veracity of actions in Libya, Bahrain, and elsewhere, this story kinda got left behind. On the street though, for the Palestinians, it has continued to be a grievous issue with demonstrations against the US held in the Palestinian Territories.
Let's bring ourselves up to date on what lies behind the veto America used in the Security Council. It appears that the US did not cast its veto because it supports the Israeli policy of settlements, because both Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice said plainly that the US doesn't.
So why did it happen? Some analysts here mentioned the new dynamic President Obama has to face with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Obama may have wanted to prevent the condemnation from them if the Resolution condemning Israel were to go through and thus sought to placate the House.
But what about here on the ground? The Palestinians are angry and feel betrayed, and the Israelis are 'deeply appreciative' of the action – but know that there is a message to read between the lines. For those pushing peace, they understand that the diplomatic process will resume only after the next presidential election, or sadly after another wave of intense violence. Thus the stalemate continues.
For most of the international community this is frustrating, and further isolates Israel as we mentioned earlier this week on the Harvest Show. The US was the only UN Security Council member to oppose the draft resolution tabled by the Palestinians. That is a pointed reminder of Israel's fragile diplomatic dependence on America. Even the language used by Ambassador Rice in explaining the veto was such that Israel may do well to assume that a veto on this issue will not be imposed again.
Regardless of all the commentary, the veto was an achievement for Israeli policy. But the fact that the resolution was penned in the diplomatic language that America used concerning the Settlements – and Israel got the US to go against it's declared position, means that the US clearly has the upper hand in the next round of diplomatic poker.
Some perceive that America looks weak in all this – and she knows it. But this would be only part of the problem as many believe the Israelis simply don't want to talk peace and the Palestinians have now effectively quit the negotiations.
So what are we left with; Israel continues to build settlements and is seeking to pass a law that would make the settlements in the West Bank part of the State of Israel, and the Palestinians are reshuffling their government and are potentially at a point of bringing Hamas into the fold before the scheduled September elections. The sum of this = polarization and not peace.
Middle East Correspondent