US admits defeat on Israeli settlement freeze. Can it still broker peace?
In the wake of Argentina and Brazil's formal recognition of a Palestinian state, some are calling on the US to step in with a peace plan of its own.
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US-Israel talks on a three-month extension of the moratorium seemed close to conclusion several weeks ago, but the sides haggled over a package of incentives including $3 billion in military hardware to help Prime Minister Netanyahu sell it to his coalition.Skip to next paragraph
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The official declaration yesterday that no such moratorium would be forthcoming has left the Palestinians, which have yet to respond publicly, mulling their options. A prime consideration, suggested a top aide to Mr. Abbas, was whether the US could deliver meaningful results for the Palestinian Authority.
"We will assess if the US would be able ... to achieve success in its upcoming efforts," Yasser Abed Rabbo was quoted as saying on the Voice of Palestine radio station.
"The one who couldn't make Israel limit its settlement activities in order to conduct serious negotiations, how can he be able to make Israel accept a fair solution," he added. "This is the big question now."
Unilateral declaration of statehood?
The Palestinians, meanwhile, are considering a unilateral declaration of statehood, perhaps by requesting resolutions from the United Nations General Assembly or Security Council.
Resolutions from individual countries, though symbolic, are seen as a step in that direction. In addition to a letter of recognition from Uruguay early next year, Palestinians are hoping to win recognition from additional South American countries including Chile, Paraguay, and Peru, said a Palestinian official involved in the effort.
"The recognition for the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders is essentially an insurance policy,'' says the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive negotiations. "We Palestinians have to protect the borders of the Palestinian state.''
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that Argentina's statehood recognition was "counterproductive," and that only through negotiations can the sides resolve problems. Israel criticized the move as well.
US peace plan could discourage unilateral action
A US peace plan, proponents argue, could pull both sides away from any unilateral moves that could undermine the Obama administration's push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
"The best way for the US to head off a Palestinian unilateral move for recognition is not to warn them, as Washington has done, but instead to step forward with our own peace plan,'' says Scott Lasensky, a fellow at the Congress-funded US Institute for Peace who coauthored an article in the International Herald Tribune (IHT) supporting a peace plan. "A US plan would capture the debate and change the focus to the terms of peace."