JERUSALEM, Israel -- With Obama administration officials reportedly poised to impose its resolution to stalemated negotiations, Israel is at one of the most critical junctures since its reestablishment as a modern nation-state more than 65 years ago.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Israel Wednesday, where he'll hold separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas.
According to the latest media reports, Kerry intends to convey U.S. intentions to present its formula for a permanent solution in January.
MK Zehava Gal-On, chairwoman of the ultra-leftwing Meretz Party, released a statement following meetings with P.A. and U.S. officials Monday saying the U.S. administration is "moving from a coordination…to an intervention stage," Israel Hayom reported.
Meanwhile, Abbas again said he would never recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people nor would he accept an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley. Speaking with Fatah Party leaders Monday, Abbas accused Israel of lying about the Jordan Valley, saying Israel's interests were related to its economy, not security.
Netanyahu countered by saying he sees "no change in the Palestinian position since [the Oslo Accords of] 1993."
"If they can't even stand behind the agreements we reached -- that we release prisoners but continue to build, then how can I see they will actually stand by the larger issues, which will require that they confront head-on public opinion and fixed positions in their society?" he said.
Like the Clinton administration in the early 90s, the Obama administration seems determined to pressure Israel into accepting its parameters for establishing a Palestinian state within its borders. The two main Palestinian factions -- Fatah in the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria) and Hamas in the Gaza Strip -- want to see Israel dismantled.
Less than a month ago at a memorial ceremony, Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen, speaking on behalf of P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, declared that none of "Palestine" has been liberated, the Palestinian Media Watch reported in its latest bulletin.
"All our holy places are still under occupation," Muhaisen said, "and so far we have not liberated one inch of Palestinian land. All Palestinian land is occupied. Gaza is occupied, the West Bank is occupied, the 1948 lands [all of Israel] are occupied, and Jerusalem is occupied."
Critics of Israel's prisoner release last week said the Palestinians showed their true face as Israel's "peace partners" by their response to the release of convicted assassin Issa Abd Rabbo, who was serving two life sentences for the murders of Ron Levi and Revital Seri, two Israeli university students, in 1984.
Rabbo attacked the two as they hiked in the countryside south of Jerusalem, binding them at gunpoint before putting a bag over their heads and shooting them at point blank range.
On its official Facebook page, Fatah called Rabbo "the symbol of our prisoners, our brother and leader," who earned "feelings of utmost loyalty and devotion," PMW reported. Click here to read more Fatah accolades heaped on this convicted murderer.
For now, it seems that the struggle to find a workable solution between Israel and its Arab neighbors is as elusive as ever.
Some say the Arab population within and without Israel has sought to eradicate it since its official rebirth on May 14, 1948.
Others note that despite Israel's successes over the past 65 years, both at home and abroad, the Jewish state is still a target of anti-Semitic epithets globally. Its disproportionate contributions in scientific research and medical breakthroughs, high tech, and agriculture have not been enough to prevent the world from condemning its very right to exist, they say.