The Bush administration, whose record on creating one problem after another in the Middle East and never successfully resolving any of them, offered to assist Israel and the Palestinians to get back to the business of working out an agreement. Secretary Rice supposedly presented this offer to Prime Minister Olmert during his recent Washington D.C. visit. She suggested Americans could sit in on negotiations in order to facilitate the
process. Chief Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, said both sides did agree on beginning the process of laying out their ideas on key issues.
The bottom line is both sides fundamentally differ on West Bank and East Jerusalem housing construction, borders, security and return of the refugees. At this point, Israel holds the stronger hand and it incumbent upon its leaders to take the initial step of backing down, at least somewhat, on key issues.
Meanwhile, in a minor issue, eight left wing activists protested against the separation fence. Perhaps, as a gesture of compromise, Israel could begin making it easier for Arabs to move around the West Bank without continually encountering check points.