U.S. to Make New Push for Mideast Deal

[New York Times] Steven Erlanger - The victory of the radical Islamic movement Hamas in Gaza and Fatah's rapid collapse there have focused the diplomatic mind and shaken Israel, the U.S. and Sunni Arab states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, already nervous about a rising Iran. For Martin S. Indyk, a Clinton administration official and ambassador to Israel, there is a new "alliance of fear" that makes it possible to progress. The U.S. has finally decided to re-engage, pushing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinians to talk about peace. Yet Indyk, at the Brookings Institution, warned: "If (Secretary of State) Rice goes for final status she'll drive it into the ground." Israel does not have enough confidence in Abbas or a divided Palestinian polity to pull out of large sections of the West Bank, fearing Gaza-like chaos that could rain rockets on Ben-Gurion airport. Rice speaks carefully about negotiations on the principles of a final settlement - not the final settlement itself, which will be carried out over many years. The new American initiative comes late in President Bush's term, but what may make it work is its essential modesty, given Rice's apparent understanding that a full settlement is out of reach.

2007-08-17 01:00:00

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