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A grim staging ground

"The clear trends of radicalization in Israel, politically and ideologically, will remain the main impediment to reversing this trend of deterioration in the peace process. Israel's willingness to end the occupation and (as an indication of such willingness) stop constructing settlements is the only way to allow progress towards ending the conflict peacefully and reaching the comprehensive and lasting peace that all the people of the region aspire to and desire."

Only by prioritizing the issues

"In recent years, this deadlock has been compounded by Israeli archeological digs and development of sites near the Mount and in the City of David, or Silwan. In Palestinian eyes, these projects are geared to uncover and display the remains of biblical Jerusalem at the expense of layer upon layer of non-Hebrew Jerusalem culture, including a millennium and a half of Arab and Muslim civilization. They also threaten to dislodge the current Palestinian Arab residents of Silwan."

A package deal

"The Arab Peace Initiative is a package deal and cannot be dealt with selectively. Israel, in return for a full withdrawal, is guaranteed comprehensive peace, security and economic prosperity. It must, however, withdraw to the borders of 1967."

Negotiations lack clear terms of reference

"The Palestinian side was always eager to engage in the kind of negotiations that can help roll back the occupation and realize comprehensive and lasting peace and thus wanted to show a positive attitude toward international efforts. However, the absence of clear, agreed-upon and binding terms of reference for negotiations enables the Israeli government, which represents a coalition whose politics are far from the international consensus and international legality, to manipulate the resulting vagueness and ambiguity in order to further stall and thereby satisfy its right-wing constituency, in thrall to the Israeli settler movement."

Proximity talks have their uses

"The coming months could prove fateful for the negotiations, whether indirect or direct. Netanyahu is under heavy pressure from his constituency to relax the settlement freeze two months from now, thereby further constraining Abbas' room for maneuver. US mid-term election considerations could hamper American management of the talks until November, while the outcome of that election could constitute a constraint after November. Further afield, events in Iraq and the health of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt could affect the decision-making of Abbas, Netanyahu and Obama alike."

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