The fiasco of attacking civilians on Turkish ships appeared to have shook many leaders of the Israel government and made them conscious they can no longer continue unilateral policies that ignore American, EU, and regional interests. Prime Minister “Bibi” Netanyahu announced an easing of the Gaza blockade which met with widespread approval, and allowed the Obama administration to sense things were progressing on the path towards peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Netanyahu refused to include moderate Israelis to join his Cabinet and continues relying on right wing religious fanatics. The Likud Central Committee announced the prime minister was dropping opposition to further construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank and building would shortly commence. This action is bound to infuriate President Obama and American military commanders who want stability in the region as they pursue the surge in Afghanistan. Construction of new settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank will halt any possible efforts at diplomacy.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has to decide if his goal is regional peace or is his goal maintaining a coalition of fanatics who prefer war, death and destruction to the possibility of peace. He took a step forward in relaxing the Gaza blockade, if settlements resume, it dooms chances for peace. Can President Obama allow a resumption of violence in Palestinian areas to emerge while US troops are risking their lives in Afghanistan?