According to this morning's Israeli media, the US Government is putting pressure on Israel to say "yes" to the road map and to close the illegal outposts in the West Bank. See Aluf Benn's report in today's Haaretz here. This is a clear change in the American message over the past few days. You remember that during the Powell visit, the emphasis was on steps and not on the road map. It is now clear that our lack of clarity on the subject of the road map is seen to be problematic. It is scary how quickly the spin about terror attacks pass - already on Wednesday (yesterday) the talk is how to get things going again.
You may remember that last week (on May 13) I wrote about a leak about media advice Israel is getting ffrom the USA. Akiva Eldar in today's Haaretz quotes from the documents given to Israeli officials. The message of the document is clear that after the American success in Iraq (although that may change in time), there is a desire in the USA for balance and progress towards success here. The thought is that if Saddam can be defeated in three weeks, a solution to peace between Israelis and Palestinians must also be achievable, too. Of course, this is an overly simplistic view of the world in general and the situation here. At the same time, it means that Israel has to be aware of the perceptions in Washington and accross America.
Of course, I am not sure that this is a bad thing. Sharon may even WANT the Americans to tell him to do things that may be difficult to push through domestically, such as arguing with the settlers about closing illegal outposts and freezing settlement expansion. And even if he doesn't, its still good. I read an interesting quote from then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres from the summer of 1995, in connection with negotiations on the Interim Agreement within the Oslo accords. While the world is in many ways a different place then it was eight years ago, some things remain the same. The quote is taken from Uri Savir's book, The Process:
"I'm fed up with your fear of what the settlers will say. What gall! You want 150,000 Hebronites to remain under our control because of 400 Jews? There's a limit to arrogance and a limit to timidity. I'm telling you that we can break Arafat if that's what you want. But we'll be left with Hamas, an intifada and terror. We've made a decision to strive for a political settlement. Today we must decide who's in charge of this country: the government or a handful of settlers. And to you generals, I say: you too must weigh this matter from the standpoint of security. Enough of this dread of how the settlers will react!"