New hope for the Middle East

It looks like, as promised, Obama is going to work on the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. I was very heartened at the end of last week, when I did my newspaper review on the Sky News Sunrise programme that Hillary Clinton had been quite clear that any peace process had to involve no more settling on the west bank - this means no more settlements, no more outposts (which are the settlements that even the Israeli's think are illegal) and no more 'natural settlement' which is the building of new houses for the children of the original settlers.

For sure, Netanyahu and his right wing coalition partners have rebuffed it - I wouldn't expect anything less. But it is vital that the proper behaviour is demanded of Israel, otherwise we are just negotiating with ourselves.

And in Obama's BBC interview today (done because the BBC has a middle east audience without comparison) although he doesn't repeat those requirements as forcibly as Clinton set them out, he makes it clear that he is not, unlike his predecessor, going to be leaving the Israelis to leave Palestine like the holes in a Swiss cheese.

Just by chance I'm reading the winner of the 2008 Orwell Prize: Palestinian Walks, Notes on a Vanishing Landscape by Raja Shehadeh - this is truly political writing as art. But it is perhaps not the most relaxing bedtime read, as although the prose and the countryside that it invokes is sublime the insidiousness of Israeli colonisation and his legal battle against it (he is a property and land lawyer) leaves me so cross I end up having very unsatisfactory dreams!

However, it is well worth a read and I commend it to you!

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