US foreign policy challenges: Palestinian Territories and Israel
RAMALLAH // The political divide between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the Fatah and Palestinian Authority-dominated West Bank shows no signs of ending.
That fracture, together with the unrelenting growth of Israeli settlements into the West Bank, are the only pretexts required for the next US administration to turn their attention elsewhere for less intractable problems to solve.
Yet no side in this conflict can be seen to give up on the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” altogether, so look for Washington to renew its goading come spring.
Two developments are likely to focus its attention. The Palestinian Authority (PA) says it will ask the UN this month to make Palestine a “non-member” state. The effort will likely succeed, but not without angering US politicians, who will look for ways to punish the Palestinians. In doing so, they will encounter another predicament: the West Bank’s escalating economic crisis.
Punishing the PA could destabilise the area and, in turn, jeopardise Israeli security.
The wild card in all this may be the re-election of Mr Obama. Without the pressure of the campaign trail, he may be willing to take gambles. He is also said to be running out of patience with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
Updated: November 4, 2012 04:00 AM