Shocking as it may seem to those who actually bought into George Mitchell’s, Hillary Clinton’s, and the president’s cheery pronouncements, it may be that the peace talks are essentially done. The Washington Post reports:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday wrapped up three days of intense Middle East diplomacy that produced good atmospherics but no sign that an impasse over Israeli settlement construction has been resolved.
“We all know that there is no alternative to peace other than negotiating peace so we have no alternative but to continue peace efforts,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said before meeting with the chief U.S. diplomat in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
But Abbas gave little indication that he was willing to keep talks going after a partial moratorium on Israeli settlement construction expires Sept. 30.
No one does double-talk like the PA, right?
In any case, it seems the expectations are low that we’re going to have more talks after this month:
On Wednesday evening, Netanyahu told Abbas during talks at his residence in Jerusalem that the moratorium would not be extended, Israeli media reported. The prime minister’s office repeated that position in a statement Thursday.
But Netanyahu has indicated that some restrictions on construction will be applied, and U.S. officials are hoping that the momentum of the past few days will convince the Palestinians to keep talking, even if the settlement freeze is not extended in full. …
But Mitchell refused to say whether the United States was confident the Palestinians would keep talking after the end of the month. “That subject was discussed this evening. We continue in our efforts to make progress in that regard and believe that we are doing so,” he said.
In a word: unlikely.
Will the Obami throw a hissy fit a month and a half before the midterm elections if Israel sticks to its position — i.e., offer some compromise but not an official extension of the settlement freeze? We’ll see. That might only serve to emphasize Obama’s impotence.
If we’re lucky, the talks will go on “hiatus” so “important work can be done at staff levels.” Let’s hope some face-saver like that can be worked out. The most likely alternative, however, is another intifada.