Another opportunity for peace negotiations--which Netanyahu will likely ignore
Here is the latest statement from Hamas leader Khaled Meshal where he expressly and publicly states Hamas will accept the 1967 borders for the formal creation of a Palestinian state. He won't, however, expressly state Hamas would recognize Israel. That, however, is simply giving him protection while he hopes for direct or indirect negotiations with Israel.
Here is a good news/bad news article concerning obviously controlled-leaked Fatah Party report. It seems worse than it is because the article does not really give the context, which is that despite no terrorist activity by Fatah in the West Bank, Israeli leaders continue to push for more settlement building. The good news is the Fatah Party is actually considering civil disobedience. What would be a mistake for them is to endorse any violence against settlers because the violence would then become the story, and invite disproportionate responses from the Netanyahu government.
Just imagine if the Israeli Prime Minister publicly said, "We will freeze settlement building. We will speak with Hamas directly or indirectly. We will work to establish a lasting peace in Gaza and the West Bank." If these statements were made today, there would truly be an excellent chance for such a peace.
The Israeli government's petulant defiance of world opinion and expanding the building of settlements has led the Saudis to recognize Israeli leadership is not interested in peace. As for the suspended negotiations with Syria, I tend to be more hawkish. Israel should hold the part of the Golan where it gets its water. The Golan may be given back eventually, but it must remain de-militarized. Still, both the hawks and doves inside Israel have failed to see that peace with Palestinians would enhance Israeli leaders' negotiating position with Syria. If peace is reached with Palestinians, the world can focus more directly on Iran's ambitions, and pressure Syria to reach an accommodation with Israel.
Thus, settlement building is not merely an impediment for peace with Palestinians. The continued expansive settlement building represents a grave strategic diplomatic mistake on the part of Israel. This article, entitled "Settlers undermining legitimacy of Israel's existence," (Haaretz, July 30, 2009) is pretty damned powerful--and something we won't read in U.S. corporate media, either. And Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffe seems to agree with me about settlement building (with me being a president of a Conservative synagogue!).
The beat goes on, but the concern I have is that Netanyahu's response to all the peace feelers from Palestinians will be to bomb Iran. Netanyahu needs to find his inner Nixon or Reagan...Somehow, I am not optimistic about that right now.