Hopes are fading fast that there will be any talks soon between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators. President Barack Obama is meeting Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu on the margins of the UN General Assembly, and getting him face to face with Mahmoud Abbas for the first time, but it is unlikely it will lead to anything.
The problem is settlement building, which continues apace. Washington and the Palestinians want a freeze on building new homes. Israeli leftwinger Yossi Beilin said: “We know what is going to happen. The only question is the courage of the leaders to get to the moment of truth. So far, they have never found such a moment. It is up to President Obama to convince both sides that if they wait more they might pay a very very high price.” Israel insists settlements are now only naturally expanding to take into account birth rates and families’ development, but the Palestinians say new land is also being grabbed, weakening their own potential state further before it is even agreed on.