Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rickety Center Stage

Amid clashes in Jerusalem as the expiration date nears of Israel's partial moratorium on new West Bank settlements, Israel makes a deft point about the Palestinians' threat to pull out of the talks unless the moratorium is extended:
The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded that such talk is evidence of Palestinian insincerity. It has said that the moratorium was a gesture aimed at making it easier for the Palestinians to enter direct talks. Since they waited nine months before taking advantage of it, walking out on the talks now would prove that they were not serious about peace.
The PNA could (and, I'm sure, does) respond that continuing to build homes for Israelis on land that everyone agrees will be part of Palestine is evidence that that Israel isn't serious about peace.

And yet the seriousness and good will of these leaders don't really seem to be the issue. Their political survival is. Netanyahu has to recommence some construction to mollify his right-wing coalition partners, while President Abbas has to make some progress on stopping construction if he is to hold Hamas at bay. Has the responsible center ever been more lonely or vital?

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