In meetings today with top Israeli officials, US Mideast envoy George Mitchell emphasized the Obama Administration’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state. He was, however, unable to secure any assurances from officials in the Netanyahu government that they would support such a deal.
“Israel must make sure that the political process does not result in the creation of a second Hamastan,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted, saying that acceptance by the Palestinians that Israel will remain a Jewish state was a precondition for any future peace talks.
Making this a precondition – in essence requiring the Palestinian Authority to abandon calls for the right of return of Palestinians ousted from Israeli territory, will probably put the kibosh on any potential deal. The assurances that Hamas, which won the last Palestinian election, couldn’t gain control over the West Bank would likely appeal to the rival Fatah faction, but coming into the negotiations with demands of who is and is not allowed to government is hardly a recipe for an independent Palestine, and would likely alienate the population even further.
In the end, the position of the Israeli government was perhaps best expressed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who informed Mitchell during their meeting that diplomatic efforts had been tried since 1993 and had failed. He promised unspecified “new ideas and a new approach.”