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With Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meeting in Jerusalem tomorrow, the renewed peace talks, or perhaps they are "pre-talks", already seem to be off to a wobbly start.
All three parties - US, Israeli and Palestinian - are falling into predictably familiar patterns of behaviour. Israel is welcoming in the talks with a new wave of settlement construction, while squeezing out maximum credit for a staggered and limited Palestinian prisoner release and demanding rewards - in the shape of a softening of the newly announced policies on settlements - from Europe for even entering talks. The Palestinian leadership is busy whinging and bemoaning its fate, while the US is characteristically stoic in its attempt to balance unflinching support for Israel with its desire to finally be rid of this troublesome conflict. These roles make sense from the perspective of two of the three protagonists; just not for the Palestinians.
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