In response to Obama's call for "bold steps for peace," the Fatah leadership has agreed to circumcision en masse. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church will reportedly officiate. Expressing concern, Netanyahu demanded as a "confidence-building" measure that Arafat's corpse be circumcized. The late chairman's widow Suha Arafat objected that it was a cheap publicity stunt, but privately expressed a willingness to negotiate. Saeb Ereket couldn't be reached for comment: his phone message stated, "The peace process is dying, the peace process is dying, the peace process is dying." Abu Ala also could not be reached for comment. His secretary stated that he was negotatiating an important deal with Egypt regarding deliveries of "steel and cement."

January 23, 2010

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will participate in the Herzliya Conference early next month with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, organizers of the annual Israeli strategy conference said Wednesday in a potentially encouraging sign that Palestinians might be taking a step toward exploring a return to peace negotiations.

“I have just been advised that Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will be participating in the ‘Prospects of Peace: The Israeli Palestinian Track’ plenary session alongside Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and conference head Danny Rothschild,” wrote Herzliya Conference spokesman Jeremy Ruden.

Ruden said Fayyad was scheduled to be at the panel in person.

The annual Herzliya conference is Israel’s premier national security and strategy powwow, convened in the past by Uzi Arad, now national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell returned to the region this week, after a two-month break from his shuttle diplomacy efforts, in a new push to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Netanyahu, however, continued his hard-line rhetoric Wednesday, saying Israel would need a presence in the West Bank to stop rockets from being imported even after a peace agreement is achieved — marking the first time such a demand has been spelled out.

Netanyahu said the experience of rocket attacks from the Lebanese and Gaza borders means Israel must be able to prevent such weapons from being brought into any future Palestinian state on the West Bank.

Fayyad’s participation in the conference would seem an encouraging sign that Palestinians may be taking a step toward exploring a return to negotiations.

Fayyad has put forward a detailed plan for the creation of a Palestinian state within two years, with a strong focus on institution and state building, that is compatible with the timetable the Obama administration has described for final status talks.