Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Burning the phone lines" to the Middle East ...

"...As yet unclear and very closely held is whether Netanyahu confidentially agreed with Obama to extend a partial West Bank settlement freeze set to expire in September. Publicly, Netanyahu has said he can’t extend the freeze without Abbas agreeing to direct talks.
“It is a complicated chess game,” said former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), now president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, and a close ally of the administration on the peace process. “Abbas seeks more progress before direct negotiations even though he has received direct assurances from the president. Abbas does not want to be made to appear foolish and he is, in fact, hearing from certain Israelis that the Labor Party will bolt the coalition if there is no progress. He is gaming whether such internal pressure is advantageous for his negotiating position.”
“The [Obama] administration will tolerate just so much,” Wexler continued, referring to Abbas holding out on direct negotiations. “Abbas needs to be careful he does not overplay his hand with the administration. … My personal opinion is Abbas is better off long-term relying on the president's assurances, obtain immediate on-the-ground ‘good will’ gestures from Bibi, and test Bibi's declaration of willingness to make serious concessions for peace.”..."

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