Those in Washington pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian deal by the end of President Bush's term may have to scale down their expectation as the gaps between the two sides only seem to be growing larger.
A new bout of discord arose after a blowout between the Palestinian Authority's head negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, and Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni. Qureia angrily rejected a proposed map presented by Livni in which any future agreement would see Israel retaining control of the larger settlement blocs in the West Bank as well as the Jordan River Valley and Jerusalem.
Qureia grabbed the map spread out on the table and pushed it away with both hands.
The divide over the border fall-out was only further exacerbated after Qureia vehemently rebuffed comments made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday, in which he demanded a special security arrangement be made for a mountain ridge in Palestinian territory east of Ben Gurion Airport.
The recent turbulence indicates a permanent deal or even an
agreement on certain basic principles may be even farther from reach.
I'm shocked. No, really. I am. Shocked that Olmert and Livni at least still pay lip service to the importance of Israel retaining control of the larger settlement blocs in the West Bank as well as the Jordan River Valley and Jerusalem. It's a no-brainer but that doesn't mean they get it.
And Qureia's pals were obviously shocked senseless, as witness this delusional response by one of them.
A senior Palestinian official told Ynet he was unsurprised by Barak's comments. "Once he blew-up the Camp David talks and blamed it on Arafat and now he is panicking that the current negotiations may succeed. That is why he doing all this and making declarations that sour the atmosphere. Barak has taken the Labor party from the peace camp to the side of settlers and extremists. He poses an obstacle to the talks."Uh. huh.