Before the Annapolis meeting took place in late November, I warned of the danger that a joint U.S.-Palestinian position might emerge that the Israelis would resist, thereby leading to "a possible crisis in U.S.-Israel relations of unprecedented proportions." Here is the first installment to follow up on that worry, to be updated as needed.
"Israel fears clash with U.S. over peace talks' impasse" writes Barak Ravid in Ha'aretz:
A senior adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel may come into conflict with the United States over increased pressure by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to advance talks with the Palestinian Authority. …
The U.S. might want to up the pressure on Israel to fulfil its obligations in the first stage of the road map, the adviser said in private conversations, particularly removing illegal outposts and freezing construction in the territories. "Their demands from Israel will only increase and it is not certain that we can meet them under the circumstances," he added. The adviser said that in Vice Premier Haim Ramon's talks with American officials, he had gone "too far in promising them things to please them."
Another senior government official involved in the talks also warned of expected crises with the Palestinians and the Americans. "Israel has created a series of far-reaching expectations in the international arena," this official said, referring to the implementation of the first part of the road map, "but this is not going to happen." "There is no political capability either to evacuate settlements or freeze construction in the settlements," the second official added. According to this official, the problem will be even greater when negotiations begin on the core issues. "There are detailed files that include Israel's position on the day negotiations came to a halt in 2001," he said. "What will happen when they open the Jerusalem file, for example? They'll find that Israel's final position at Taba is light-years away from Israel's opening position today."
Comment: With a secretary of state who thinks that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "at the core of a lot of problems in the region," one can only expect more tensions to appear. (December 23, 2007)