Press sees settlements as crux of Mid-East talks
The progress of the Israeli-Palestinian talks continues to dominate comment in the Israeli and Arab press. Israeli papers debate whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to withdraw from the West Bank.
Palestinian papers insist on Israel's continuing its temporary freeze on settlement-building as a signal of good faith.
In the wider Arab press pessimism prevails, although one Egyptian paper calls on the Palestinian negotiators not to abandon the talks.
Guy Bechur in Israel's centrist Yediot Aharonot
It must be made clear to Abu Mazen [Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas]: This is your last chance and the last chance of your regime… If you do not reach a quick settlement in which Israel's demands are recognised, Israel will unilaterally evacuate most of the area of Judea and Samaria [West Bank], annex the settlement blocks and the Old City in Jerusalem and forsake you and your regime to the mercy of Hamas and Jordan… Because Abu Mazen rules today only thanks to the presence of the IDF [Israeli army] in the territory, the significance of such a step will be the liquidation of the Palestinian Authority by Hamas within a few weeks or months.
Israel Harel in Israel's liberal broadsheet Haaretz
Netanyahu's dramatic turnabout is being dismissed because many of his critics never adhered, as he did, to a fervent, binding belief, and do not understand the inner storms in the heart of a leader who is abandoning beliefs he imbibed with his mother's milk… Thus they cannot grasp the fact that Netanyahu, via his statements, has embarked on a road from which there is no turning back… A man like Netanyahu, a man of dignity and honour, would not take the path of deceit… His heart and his mouth were at one in the past, and they are at one now.
Ben Kaspit in Israel's centrist Maariv
It is impossible to belittle the importance of the flag of Palestine in the prime minister's residence [during the visit of Mahmoud Abbas to Jerusalem], especially when the prime minister is Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Israeli right, head of the nationalist camp, the man who swore not to establish a Palestinian state. Without any connection to what Netanyahu really wants, the facts are meanwhile accumulating: his two-state vision at Bar-Ilan [university speech in July]; the unprecedented construction freeze in the settlements; the use of the term the "West Bank" in his White House speech, and now the flag. One of the settlers' leaders who knows Netanyahu very well was right when he said last week: "We've lost Bibi" - at least for the time being.
Gideon Eshet in Israel's Yediot Aharonot
The Palestinians must recognise Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. So say unanimously all the government ministers… No-one in the world recognises Israel as the state of the Jewish people. No-one, so it seems, intends to do this in the future… The matter is being raised to torpedo a possible agreement… That is the whole story.
Pro-Fatah Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds
The only initiative the Palestinians, Americans and the world are waiting to see Israel present is an extension to the moratorium on settlement activity. The next few days in the negotiations will reveal whether it will be extended or not. Netanyahu does not have a wide margin of manoeuvre, and he has to outline his position clearly without any stalling.
Nuri al-Sadiq in pro-Fatah Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam
The Palestinian leadership had to sacrifice its conditions on the altar of the resumed negotiations. It has stuck to the conditions that settlement activity must stop and reference terms for the direct negotiations should be outlined before resuming the talks... After agreeing to resume the negotiations, it is in the interest of the Palestinian leadership that these negotiations should succeed.
Isam Shawir in Gaza-based Hamas website Filastin Online
The negotiations soap opera will go on and on, and even the small group of Palestinians who are optimistic about them will not see a happy ending. Every now and then the agenda of the negotiations changes according to the desires of Israel, which is supported by the United States. The increasing Israeli demands mean that the Palestinian demands will be obliterated.
Ibrahim Nafi in Egypt's Al-Ahram
I believe that the Israeli right will not give in easily. It will manoeuvre and evade and work to divert the negotiations from substantial issues by introducing marginal issues for the sake of obtaining Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state… What is important is not to waste the current opportunity and not to give the Israeli government the chance to hold the Palestinian negotiator responsible for thwarting negotiations.
The US administration is trying to reach a compromise to the problem to save the negotiations from collapse. It may try to persuade the Palestinian Authority to proceed with negotiations under a vague formula, to cover its inability to convince the Israelis to continue the freeze of settlement building after 26 September. This raises real questions about how far the US administration is able to convince the racists and extremists among the Israeli rulers to meet peace requirements, such as the full withdrawal from the occupied territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Hasan Tawalbah in Jordan's Al-Arab al-Yawm
President Obama, who previously announced his rejection of settlements, returned - after Netanyahu's insistence on continuing settlement-building - to accept a temporary freeze on settlement construction… Given all this, we join those who are pessimistic about the futility of the talks, because the Zionist side is strong and is backed by the world's major power, and it is not being forced to reach a solution that would shake the entity of the Zionist state.
Samir al-Zubn in Lebanon's Al-Mustaqbal
As the Israeli side takes to the negotiations its strongest positions and imposes its conditions, the Palestinian side brings to these negotiations its weakest positions; negotiations that have not met the minimum of its just demands… a new farce in a region which has experienced all Israeli tricks and lies.
Ahmad Khalil in Qatar's Al-Watan
Most likely, negotiations will continue with the building of settlements, according to a midway formula that the US administration will first try to persuade Israel of and then impose on the Palestinian side as usual. Negotiations will not stop because the Palestinian side has no other option but extinction.
Izz al-Din Darwish in Syria's Tishrin
When Netanyahu insists on continuing settlements even when he is negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, it means that he does not want a solution, and that all that he wants is negotiations for their own sake... The Americans are aware of such agendas. This means that the result will be in the interest of Israelis, and the Palestinians will lose a lot.