"An eye for an eye"… and a unilateral move for a unilateral move?

Is there anything new on the “peace talks”?

In response to questions from journalists in Washington yesterday, U.S. State Department Spokesperson, Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley, said:

“I have nothing specific to report to you. We continue our contacts with the parties, and I don’t have anything to report”.

The “direct talks” process that the U.S. launched in September, after “indirect talks” failed in March have all fizzled out. Only a bold few are now venturing to say that the effort is dead, but nothing is happening except behind the scenes contacts.

Everything is on hold until the U.S. mid-term Congressional elections in early November.

Then. another journalist put a follow-up question to Crowley:

QUESTION: On the peace process, President Abbas has said yesterday that Israel has been taking unilateral steps for decades by building settlements. So the Palestinians might take one of their own, asking the United Nations to recognize their independent state.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think our position has been pretty clear. We continue to encourage the parties to avoid unilateral steps on one side of the ledger or the other. Our position on settlements has not changed, and we continue to encourage the parties to resume direct negotiations as the only mechanism to resolve these myriad of issues.

Pretty mild, actually…

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu offered, a few weeks after his unilateral ten-month settlement “moratorium” expired on 26 September, to resume the “moratorium” for an indefinite time period if the Palestinian leadership would recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The Palestinians recoiled and shreiked.

Now, Netanyahu is reportedly considering another unilateral three-month extension…

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