Moving forward on the Middle East peace process?

It is hard to tell based on Wednesday's statement from Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and U.S. special envoy George Mitchell on their meeting earlier this week.

In a joint statement, the two said they "met for several hours in New York" and "discussed the full range of issues."

But the statement lacks many details. Here is what it says:
"Specifically, their discussions covered a wide range of measures needed to create a climate conducive to peace. These included measures on security and incitement by the Palestinians; steps by Arab states toward normalization with Israel; and, from Israel, actions including on access and movement in the West Bank and on settlement activity. The discussions were constructive and will continue soon."

Taken one at a time, "security and incitement by the Palestinians" is pretty clear; Israel wants an assurance that there will be a crackdown on violence before they will enter into any deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing for "normalization" of relations between Israel and Arab state since his election. Basically, that means Israel would expect reciprocity when it makes concessions, I think.

Lastly, the discussion of settlements likely referenced the New York Times scoop late last week that Israel is now open to freezing the construction of settlements in the West Bank.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com

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