The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Peace process? What peace process?

Shimon Peres, president of Israel:

CERNOBBIO, Italy (AFP) – Israeli President Shimon Peres said Friday he was "quite optimistic" about peace and downplayed reports that his country will carry on with settlement construction before agreeing to a freeze.

"I am quite optimistic about peace," Peres, said, evoking the "pragmatic approach in all quarters," during a speech to the Ambrosetti Forum grouping political and business leaders on the shore of Lake Como in northern Italy.

Meanwhile Israel is... going ahead with new settlement construction.

Peres is also suggesting that the Palestinian state come before a peace deal -- probably he had in mind that the Palestinians (well Fayyad and so on) should go on ahead pretending that they have a state but Israelis continue to build settlements.

Good thing that the Obama administration is soooo credible on the peace process. As Stephen Walt notes:

In response, the Obama administration said, "We regret the reports of Israel's plans to approve additional settlement construction," adding that additional settlements are "inconsistent with Israel's commitments under the road map."

Ouch. That must really sting. The government of the world's most powerful country "regrets" what you are doing. Oh dear. I'll bet there's fear and trembling in PM Netanyahu's office tonight.

The administration's official statement also declared "The U.S. commitment to Israel's security is and will remain unshakeable," and said that it still believed a two-state solution was the best way to guarantee that objective.

But here's my question: If Netanyahu and Co. can count on this "unshakeable commitment" no matter what they do, why should anyone expect their behavior to change?