"Israel and the Palestinians are still at odds over a joint document for the conference, which would serve as a launch pad for negotiations on core issues such as borders and the fate of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees.
Israel has insisted that any future agreement be put into effect only after the Palestinians met their obligations under a U.S.-backed peace "road map" charting reciprocal steps towards statehood.
The 2003 blueprint requires Palestinians to crack down on militants and for Israel to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and remove dozens of outposts set up without Israeli government permission." NY Times
"core issues such as borders and the fate of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees" Oh! Is that all?
This is a sick joke. The United States still does not "get" the picture on the Arab/Israeli problem. The truth is that the two groups are, in reality, unwilling to share "Eretz Israel/Ard Filastiin between them. There is no good will in either group toward the other except in the hearts of a valiant and persistent few. Diplomacy in pursuit of a genuine peace is an illusion brought on by the brilliant tactical maneuvering and cynical information operations of the disputants.
Rice is merely preparing the ground for the final destruction of her reputation at Annapolis. Dennis Ross experienced a similar met-down at Camp David 2 when he egregiously and massively over-reached. He survived, but then, he had more faithful friends than Rice is likely to have. Bye Bye Nobel Prize.
The United States has far more serious problems in the Levant than the pursuit of this chimera. The real "long pole in the tent" is the Israeli nuclear "force de frappe" and the circumstances under which Israel might feel compelled to use it with or without American knowledge or agreement.
The Syrian air strike farce is not re-assuring in this matter. It is increasingly clear that the target was insignificant and that the motivation for the attack is buried in the collective Israeli psychology of insecurity, siege and unwillingness to rely on anyone else (including the US) for anything.
The US should stop worrying about diplomacy among the mischievous and start worrying more about possible strategic catastrophe. pl