Obama, Netanyahu Focus on Iran, Ignore Peace Process

But the Palestinians have offered preconditions for negotiations, which Israel will reject in favor of occupation and expansion

by John Glaser, March 03, 2012

The one issue President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are preoccupied with in their diplomatic meetings this weekend is Iran, whereas the Israeli-Palestinian issue is receiving almost no attention.

In diplomatic overtures only a year ago, the prime issue at hand between the two leaders was the Israeli Palestinian issue, but the Iran issue has completely crowded out any focus on it this year. Many see this as inappropriate, given that many people suffer as a result of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, whereas the Iran issue is largely manufactured.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians have been hard at work in the peace process. Palestinians announced Saturday they plan to give Israel a deadline to Israel to accept ground rules for negotiations, the details of which are to be released in a document after a review by the United States.

The conditions put forth by the Palestinian Authority include a demand that Israel “agree to the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with the possibility of a limited exchange of equal pieces of land and a full halt to the building of settlements including in east Jerusalem.”

Another demand is for “The release of Palestinian prisoners, especially those detained before 1994, and cancelling all the decisions taken by the Israeli governments since 2000.”

The right-wing leadership of Netanyahu, though, has prevented the PA from making any progress on these issues. He has refused to halt illegal settlements and vowed never to relinquish east Jerusalem, the locale that has been the basis for a capital for the Palestinians.

So far, there is no indication of giving the Israeli-Palestinian issue priority over the Iran issue, and no engaging response from the Israelis is expected, beyond decrying the PA demands and refusing to budge from their policies of occupation and territorial expansion.

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