Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has arrived in Ramallah, a sign a security deal with militants may have been reached, as Abbas has maintained he would not be returning to Yasser Arafat’s headquarters without one. Abbas may have got a deal with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two radical armed Palestinian factions, to stop attacking Israelis, although this is still to be confirmed. Stopping violence is a key Israeli demand to resuming talks with the Palestinian leadership.
Abbas is deploying his own newly-unified security force to retake streets where the militants have held an increasingly high profile recently, but it remains to be seen if this will placate the hawks within Israel’s government of national unity.
America is again rolling its sleeves up to enter the fray; envoy William Burns arrives today on a regional mini-trip. He will have talks with Prime Minister Sharon’s cabinet, where opinions are divided as to the next step.
Another symbol of the changing situation resumed its march across the West Bank today. After six months the Israeli Supreme Court has decided building work on the security barrier near the Ariel settlement can go ahead. Now nearly a third built, the Palestinians claim it eats into their land illegally, and goes against the spirit of negotiations.