Finally. It felt like it would never happen. Negotiations were at a standstill, secretaries of state could no longer hide their irritation, and it felt like there was nothing left to be done but wait. A long, painful, agonizing waste of time orchestrated as blackmail. Finally, Netanyahu dropped the towel. Or at least part of it.

Yesterday, the controversial and irritatingly uncompromising Prime Minister of Israel took one step towards maturity and inclusion. He conceded to Washington a ten-months freeze of settlements in the West Bank, requested by Europe ever since the death of Itzhak Rabin and by the United States the moment the moment the Obama Administration came into power. Netanyahu had become the thorn in every diplomats side. His submission is not whole: although his promise was clear on the status of the West Bank, East Jerusalem remains in the vagueness of a hugely compromises statu quo.

Benjamin Netanyahu: between a rock and a hard place

So why the sudden gesture towards peace? “we want to show the world a simple truth, that of knowing the Israeli government is willing to start negotiating with the Palestinians, that it is taking concrete measures in that direction, and that it is serious in its peaceful intentions.” the message is hopeful and beautiful, but the ten-month limit allows us to doubt the veracity of those claims.

What will happen once the term limit is reached, and will it be long enough to craft a lasting peace process? The Palestinians remain skeptical on the subject of Netanyahu’s commitment precisely on his unwillingness to clear the East Jerusalem fire. “In [our] eyes. East Jerusalem represents a red line not to cross. Any return to negotiations has to be made on the basis of a complete stop to settlements in the West Bank… Jerusalem included”, declared Nabil Abbou Roudeina, Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesperson. Those negotiations are therefore not that close to happening, since both authorities wish to claim the Holy City as their capital.

Netanyahu, first entirely opposed to any compromise and used to unconditional support from the White House, is finding himself in a situation where he can’t win. On one side, he came to realise the new American administration were not lax on international law as the previous was; and on the other, his own party line – elected along with right wing party Likoud – is heavily relying on nationalism and the expansion of Isreaeli territory. Who is Netanyahu trying to please the most? Danny Dayan, leader of the Yesha Council, representing the colons, feels betrayed by his Prime Minister to the point of claiming that colons feel “persecuted” and that the Likoud’s ideal of a Great Israel is being washed away in the name of international compromise. Nationalists are learning the drawbacks of diplomatic relations and pay the price of international alienation.

Several protests have taken place from the most radical fringes of the colons, most of them commanding officers of the Tsahal. Netanyahu, who himself ha never been more inclined than his predecessor to satisfy the utmost Zionist dream, is now facing the same threats progressive leader Rabin did before being assassinated in 1995 for participating in the Camp David summit.

Ten months during which the world will hold their breath and wait to see if the majority of Israelis – who do want peace and no longer wish to be world pariahs for living in a state perpetuating war crimes in their name – will once and for all take over the handful of right wing radicals menacing to perpetuate a conflict that has shed blood for way too long.

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