Has America’s Middle East Diplomacy Failed?

Just last week, Israeli newspapers were carrying the headline that Prime Minister Netanyahu had struck a deal with Secretary of State Clinton for a 3-month extension on the moratorium on construction.

Netanyahu, who had previously stated publicly that he would not agree to a further freeze on building, had backed down, in spite of the risks posed to his coalition in doing so. In return, so it was announced, he had received security and political commitments from the U.S. Administration, which included an agreement to allow Israel to purchase twenty F35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets for her air force.

A week later, all of this seems to be fading away like the morning mist. The State Department has failed to date to put those undertakings in writing and the Palestinians have made it abundantly clear that they are not prepared to return to the negotiating table, if the moratorium does not include East Jerusalem.

Did the U.S. offer more verbally than they were prepared or able to commit themselves to in writing? And how is it that they, according to reports, agreed to a freeze that did not include Jerusalem without checking out first whether the Palestinians were prepared to go along with such a deal? What, at first sight, appeared to be a breakthrough, increasingly looks, on the basis of the information that has been released to date, like a bungled effort at diplomacy.

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