Look quickly before it's over, but there may be another Middle East peace conference in Washington in about a week. Ha'aretz quotes "senior Israeli and European officials" saying President Obama will convene the summit on July 11 in an attempt to head off the Palestinian threat to seek UN recognition for its unilateral declaration of statehood.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas's UN strategy is crumbling in the face of strong American opposition, which includes threats of a UN veto and a possible Congressional cutoff of aid to the PA. But Abbas has crawled out on the UN limb and is searching for a face-saving way down.
American diplomats have been shutting between the Ramallah and Jerusalem in recent weeks searching for the long-elusive winning formula. The Europeans are pressing Obama to produce an international peace plan based on his May 19 speech. So far he's shown little enthusiasm for specifics, preferring instead to speak in broader goals. And he's unlikely to change now as he heads into a heated election season in which Republicans are already accusing him of tossing Israel "under the bus."
The last White House peace photo-op was in September last year, and the negotiations lasted only a few weeks before Abbas walked out when Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month settlement freeze that the Palestinian leader ignored for the first nine months.
With neither Middle East leader showing much enthusiasm for real negotiations, look for them to show up, pose for pictures, declare their undying commitment to peace and go back home to blame the other guy for not taking the matter seriously enough.
-- Douglas M. Bloomfield
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