With just five days to go before the Palestinians present their demand for statehood before the UN, America and Europe are engaged in a diplomatic push to restart direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has met the Israeli prime, defence, and foreign ministers, but Avigdor Lieberman is maintaining his hard line.
“The one thing I can say with full confidence is that the moment they make a unilateral decision there will be grave and difficult consequences, and I hope we don’t reach these grave and difficult consequences,” Lieberman said.
The heart of the problem is the continued expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement building, and its defiance of President Obama’s call that there should be no more, led to the Palestinians walking out of talks last year, and ultimately their decision to go to the UN.