Serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority remain on hold as the United States and Israel consider acceptable terms for a US offer to Israel for military security and political support in exchange for temporary suspension of new Israeli construction in the Palestinian Territories.
Yet nothing remains constant. In the absence of visible negotiations, lesser eruptions from time to time are reminders that underlying unresolved tensions. In the past week Israel announced plans for new housing construction in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of east Jerusalem. In response Palestinian authorities said Israel holds the responsibility for collapse of the peace process. Prime Minister Netanyahu in turn said it was Palestinians that did not want to advance peace negotiations.
On November 21 the Palestinian Authority web site posted an article in Arabic saying the Western Wall is part of the al-Aqsa Mosque and belongs to Muslims. Prime Minister Netanyahu denounced the analysis as scandalous. On November 30 the State Department called the report “factually incorrect, insensitive, and highly provocative.” On December 1 the report was removed from the PA website without comment.
With the political setback suffered by the administration in the November elections and the end of year holidays fast approaching, major new initiatives from the U.S. are not likely in the next several weeks. Yet it is well known that the Israeli – Palestinian peace negotiations are like a bicycle: unless there is forward motion, it soon collapses.