Abu Mazen shuffles the deck

For one short moment, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has managed to bring everyone together – not merely reconciling Fatah and Hamas, but completely uniting the Israeli government which, many thought, was on the verge of collapse. People still remember Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying he’d prefer new elections over the release of Arab-Israeli prisoners, and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett threatening that his party, Habayit Hayehudi, would leave the coalition if any of these were freed. Day and night the teams negotiated – Tzipi Livni, Saeb Erekat and US mediator Martin Indyk – seeking the magic formula which would enable the talks to continue and ensure the government coalition’s unity. Commentators regurgitated the official line that this was impossible, because Abu Mazen was not only insisting on the release of all prisoners as promised, including Israeli Arabs, but also added two new conditions: talks on the future borders and a three-month freeze on settlement construction. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response was immediate: “Abu Mazen doesn’t want peace!”

This BBSNews article was syndicated from RSS-Update: Challenge - A Magazine covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and written by Yacov Ben Efrat. Read the original article here.