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2010 Year in Review

Major World News Stories of 2010


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Benjamin Netanyahu

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Israel and Palestinian State

Talks Between Israel and Palestinian Resume—Briefly

Israeli and Palestinian leaders returned to the bargaining table in September, but because the Israelis refused to extend the freeze on settlement construction, the Palestinians walked away from the negotiations. The freeze had been in place for nine months, however, before the Palestinians agreed to engage in direct talks.

Settlement Construction a Provocative Issue

As a gesture of good will, compromise, and a fresh attempt at peace talks between Israel and Palestine, U.S. vice president Joe Biden traveled to Israel in March to begin indirect negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Soon after Biden arrived, however, it was announced that 1,600 houses would be built for Jewish settlers on the Eastern tip of Jerusalem, a section of the city Palestinians saw as part of their future capital. Biden immediately condemned the plan. Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized for the timing, but refused to rescind the decision.

Just two weeks later, Netanyahu traveled to the United States to meet with President Barack Obama; their encounter was unusually secretive and specific discussions were not widely released. Obama was reportedly trying to force Netanyahu into making concessions, specifically to freeze the Jewish settlement-building plan in East Jerusalem. Obama insisted that Jerusalem and other larger issues of contention between Israel and Palestine be discussed in "proximity talks" and that eventual negotiations would have to include steps to build Palestinian confidence, such as releasing Palestinian prisoners and dismantling Israeli military road blocks. Netanyahu complained that his allies would rebel against him if such steps were promised. Obama emphasized that the two countries would have to resolve their issues themselves; the U.S. could only help in the discussion, not solve their problems for them.

Direct Negotiations Brief and Lacking Substance

After Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas quit the negotiations, the U.S. stepped in and offered to sell Israel 20 F-35 stealth airplanes and to veto any anti-Israel resolutions put to a vote at the UN in exchange for a 90-day extension of the freeze. Netanyahu seemed open to the compromise, but failed to get the backing of his cabinet. The U.S. abandoned its pursuit of a deal in December, when it became clear that little would be accomplished in 90 days even if the deal were reached. At the same time, the U.S. declared that this round of negotiations had ended in failure.

For more information on the state of affairs in the Middle East:

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William O. Douglas served the longest term (36 years and 209 days) on the Supreme Court.

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