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Some Views Of Kerry's Announcement ("By George He Did It!" -- "Sovereignty Over Slivers")

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Netanyahu's twitter feed has nothing to say about the news. There is this from three days ago:

"For more updates, statements and interviews follow PM Netanyahu's spokespeople."

But neither spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman or Mark Regev, has anything to say either.

Mouin Rabbani of the Institute for Palestine Studies says that Abbas will have only a negligible minority of Palestinians behind him; he calls for a wholesale repudiation of Oslo and ejection of the U.S. from the driver's seat (again thanks to IMEU):

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"In considering how to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Washington has chosen to yet again re-invent the square wheel of Oslo. For good measure, it has removed yet a few more spokes, and according to the available reports the terms proposed by the Obama administration not only incorporate the Bush administration's radical pro-Israeli tilt but take it significantly further.

"It is time to recognise that under such conditions, renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are not an opportunity for a peaceful settlement of the conflict but a permanent threat for such a settlement. Indeed, only a wholesale repudiation of Oslo, and of American hegemony over Middle East diplomacy, can succesfully salvage the prospects for Middle East peace.

"In agreeing to resume negotiations under these conditions, Mahmoud Abbas has the support of not only a negligible minority of his people, but -- more dangerously for him -- only a minority of his own leadership. His decision to capitulate to Obama yet again may yet prove very costly to his leadership."

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Mitchell Plitnick at Lobelog also says this is warmed-over Oslo and he has doubts about the U.S. ability to apply pressure to make that work, especially given Palestinian mistrust of Oslo and the growing importance of the refugee issue:

"Any realistic agreement is probably going to involve Israel keeping the three large settlement blocs, which is going to be a tough sell to the Palestinians because of the way the Ariel and Ma'ale Adumim settlements slice apart the West Bank. Conversely, any conceivable agreement would also mean sharing Jerusalem and Israel taking at least token responsibility for the creation and long-term plight of Palestinian refugees, which might be an even tougher sell....

"Although it has become much more difficult as the Israeli public and body politic has drifted well to the right from where it was in the mid-1990s, there is reason to believe that enough Israelis would support an Oslo deal to make it work. It is not at all clear that the same can be said about the Palestinians.

"The mistrust and frustration that resulted from Oslo has certainly hardened the resolve of many Palestinians. And while Palestinian refugees have always been central to the national narrative, few would argue that the refugees have a more prominent place in Palestinian negotiations today than they did twenty years ago. It will be much harder to sell an agreement now where Israel takes in zero or close to zero refugees than it was when the Oslo Accords were agreed upon. It will also be much harder to sell a demilitarized state to Palestinians weary and wary from years of violence from Israel.

"...Kerry was able to push Netanyahu a little more than usual this week, but that was nothing compared to what will be required to get Netanyahu to agree to sharing Jerusalem, provide some concession on the refugee issue and limit his own draconian security demands, which currently include a very large Israeli presence remaining in the Jordan Valley. There is no indication that the Obama administration is prepared to apply that kind of pressure or weather the ensuing political firestorm such a move would bring."

Steve Walt at Foreign Policy says the Israelis have been forced by international isolation to do something, but nothing will likely come of it:

"The only serious question to ask is whether this new round of talks has a better chance [than Oslo] of succeeding. And let's be clear: Success means actually reaching a final status agreement that establishes a viable state for the Palestinian people. Kicking the can down the road for another few years is not success. Endless discussions that collapse in mutual recriminations, while the bulldozers continue to demolish Palestinian homes and construction crews erect more condos and apartments for Israelis in the occupied territories, are not success either. And neither is another demonstration of American fecklessness, naivete, and diplomatic incompetence....

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"So what are the grounds for optimism? Well, it is possible that Netanyahu & Co. are aware of broader global trends that are working against them. ... By reminding even hard-line Israelis that the occupation is eating away at their international acceptance, such events give even the current government some reason to think differently... 

"It is also possible that Obama will show more spine than he did during his first term and that he'll get sufficient cover from groups like J Street so that he can pursue a more effective approach. That approach is going to require a combination of bribes and pressure:

"My forecast: a lot of talk, but ultimately no action. The Palestinians have nothing left to give up (save for symbolic concessions over the so-called 'right to return'), and I can't see Netanyahu offering them a deal that comes even close to a viable state. And while Kerry's tenacity is admirable, I've yet to see any sign of a genuinely different U.S. approach. Remember: Assorted U.S. diplomats have spent thousands of hours going back and forth with both sides over the years and have ended up with bupkis. So I think we'll see more talks, along with more settlement building, and ultimately no agreement. And then Obama and Kerry will be gone, and another 'opportunity' for peace -- if it even is one -- will have been lost.

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Philip Weiss is a longtime writer and journalist in New York. He co-edits a website on Israel/Palestine, Mondoweiss.net, which he founded in order to foster the movement for greater fairness and justice for Palestinians in American foreign policy. He is currently working on a novel about the US in Australia during WW2.

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