And then?


Almost exactly 43 years since Israel occupied, through force, East Jerusalem and promptly, and illegally, annexed that half of the city to start a settlement programme, also illegal, that is only ever accelerating, the US has reportedly asked Israel for a four-month settlement construction freeze. Now, of course, there are ways of looking at it. First of all, the request may turn out to be media speculation. It may be a trial balloon. But if it isn’t, on the one hand, this is more than any other US administration has ever asked Israel to do. That is a good thing. It shows that Washington wants Israel to suffer some consequences for its brash behaviour. It shows that maybe the realisation is dawning in Washington, ever so slowly, that in fact, the real obstacle to a fair, just and peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not Hamas, not Yasser Arafat, not stone-throwing children, not intransigent refugees, but Israel, its insatiable appetite for land and its inability to understand its own history and place in the region. But that is putting a very positive spin on developments.