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Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority could implode before they even get off the ground. Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell will have their chaperoning cut out for them, with the PA threatening to withdraw if Israel resumes settlement construction and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing a plan to do just that.

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US-Israel relations have taken another frosty turn since the announcement of 1,600 new Israeli housing units in East Jerusalem The special American envoy to the region, George Mitchell, has indefinitely delayed a visit and the beginning of new negotiations while the U waits for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to demonstrate a commitment to the peace process But Hillary Clinton (continued).

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Internationally speaking, there are only two subjects to talk about in the Middle East. These are Israel, the Palestinians and the Americans; and Iran and Israel.

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Although the U.S. has requested that Israel stop building new settlements in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently refused to put a halt to those projects. About the best he was willing to do Monday was say that construction might be scaled down "for a temporary period."

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President Obama didn't wait long to tackle one of the most intractable items in his in box: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict On a whirlwind Thursday, Obama spoke to leaders in the region (minus Hamas), called for an end to the Gaza blockade and appointed George Mitchell (above), the man who brokered a truce in Northern Ireland, as Mideast envoy.

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