Washington's reputation as an "honest broker" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in tatters after four years of indulging Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intransigence. The Obama administration desperately needs to resurrect a credible peace process.
Faced with a diplomatic impasse between Israel and the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, seized his chance last week. He extracted from the Arab League an agreement to dust off a decade-old regional plan, the Arab Peace Initiative, declaring the move "a very big step forward".
Unveiled by Saudi Arabia in 2002, the plan promises Israel normal relations with the whole of the Arab world in return for its acceptance of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, or 22 per cent of historic Palestine.
The new Arab overture, like its antecedent, has raised barely a flicker of interest from Israel. Tzipi Livni, Washington's sole ally in Netanyahu's cabinet, predictably lost no time in praising the plan. But the prime minister himself has studiously avoided mentioning it, leaving his aides to dismiss the initiative as a "trick" designed to ensnare Israel in injurious peace talks. more