Palestinians see no clear signs of peacemaking in Jerusalem
According to the monitoring group, Peace Now, housing starts in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem continue despite PM Ehud Olmert's directive to desist. Peace Now reports, "In the four months since the Annapolis summit, which was intended to restart peace talks between Israel and Palestine, Israel issued tenders for the construction of 747 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Plans for another 3,648 housing units were submitted to the public for objection, an important final stage of review before construction is approved."
Last Saturday, at the Arab summit in Damascus, Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel or scuppering efforts to establish a Palestinian state. He said, "Israel is continuing its aggression, its occupation, the construction of settlements and the Judaisation of Jerusalem."
Secretary of State Rice's visit prompts easing of some West Bank restrictions
Abbas pulls out of Middle East peace talks with Israel's government over Gaza action
The current round of talks aimed at a peace treaty by year's end are now on hold following Israel's military actions in Gaza.
Mahmoud Abbas has taken the largely symbolic step to protest Israel's military incursion into Gaza to prevent further rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon.
According to a story on the BBC World News site, the Palestinian president is seen as increasingly ineffective in the face of Israel's overwhelming ability to use force.