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Liberman keeps eye on bid for Israeli premiership

By torpedoing negotiations on one hand, while setting conditions for their resumption on the other, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's tactics enable him to gain points with the left and the right of the political spectrum, pursuing his route toward the premier's seat.
Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (R) greets his Canadian counterpart John Baird before their dinner in Jerusalem January 19, 2013. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX17LHJ
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The American plan was to extend the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians until 2015 and then raise the level of talks. By facilitating a series of personal summit meetings between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, the Americans had hoped that the two leaders would be able to break the ice, that the chemistry would take its course and that the core issues would be addressed. They also hoped to find a way to overcome the insurmountable obstacles. All this, through a series of interim arrangements, or any other idea, which would enable the leaders to cope with their constituents and survive politically on one hand, but also not derail the negotiations and leave a glimmer of hope on the other.

Nobody expected Netanyahu and Abbas to foster the same almost-familial warmth that existed back in the day between the Palestinian president and Israel’s former Premier Ehud Olmert. Nobody believed that Netanyahu would be able to make the same kinds of concessions that Olmert was willing to make. Yet personal chemistry is an intangible ingredient. This, combined with international pressure, American backing and parallel professional tracks between the teams, should have at least cleared the air. That’s at least what US Secretary of State John Kerry and his team believed would happen until last week.

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