After PM Benjamin Netanyahu announced his partial settlement moratorium, many observers were right in noting that Israeli leaders had no problems declaring a settlement freeze in the past and than doubling their building efforts in the West bank and East Jerusalem. Therefore, monitoring what’s happening on the ground will play a major role in the months to come.
Before we can hope for renewal of negotiations, there are political developments that will have to play out on both Israeli and Palestinian side. This might take between few weeks, even months.
On the Israeli side, we will have to see if Netanyahu will actually stop construction in the West Bank, or if this is just another one of the Israeli stalling games we have seen before. As I wrote, I don’t trust the PM, but constant pressure from the US and from Labor might actually make him turn his back to the settlers. There is already some minor protest from the right against the moratorium, and it remains to be seen whether this is a real split between Netanyahu and the “ideological right” or just a show for the media. We have known this before as well.
On the Palestinian side, we have yet to find out the effect of the Shalit deal on the relations between Fatah and Hamas. If Abu-mazen does resign in two weeks or so, anything can happen. It can pave the road for negotiations with Israel under a new Palestinian leadership (perhaps Marwan Barguti. there are contradicting reports on the possibility of his release), or it can lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and an end to the peace process as we know it. Read the rest of this entry »