Soon there will be a restart of direct talks between Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas. The commentaries I have seen so far are skeptical at best. It would be a great thing with a peaceful solution, though.
President Obama came up with a smart idea. Smart in the sense that it would appeal to the vanity of Netanyahu and the Israelis. Obama said that the Israelis had to be prepared to take a risk for peace to materialize. This then amid the usual talk about the security of Israel being the problem and that Palestine could not become a state with their own military, for example.
However, the Israelis took a risk with leaving Gaza to the Palestinians and "democracy" then led to its population with the Israel enemy Hamas. So much, perhaps, for taking risks. Leaving the West Bank, called Judea and Samaria by the Israeli right, to the Palestinian National Authority would then make it possible for standard Gaza-type rocket attacks on key targets in Israel proper. It is very difficult to understand why this would actually happen. There has been some progress with American trained "secure" security forces of Palestinians on the West Bank but will they be able to keep the area rocket proof?
Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, has apparently done well with the BNP growth of the West Bank. Things are moving in the right direction and there has even been talk about forming a state without the OK from the Israelis. What is not moving in the right direction is that Hamas, the Sunni sect and the rather secular Fatah are apparently not really on speaking terms. Therefore a homogenous PNA that can serve as a partner for all Palestinians does not exist. Skepticism is really the only thing possible during such circumstances.
People don't even talk about what I just discussed lately because they get stuck on the settlement question. The Israeli right, on which Netanyahu's government rests, are adamantly against giving up such areas. President Obama's initial offering was even seen as an attempt to bring down Netanyahu's government for its replacement with a Kadima led one. Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni, was actually the largest party in the last election. They were in charge when George W. Bush tried for peace in the Annapolis deal which was seen as having a greater chance of succeeding due to the relatively more area give-away prone Kadima.
If something could be done on the settlement question this might lead somewhere but it does not look promising. The way I have understood the situation, although I'm not an expert, is that there is no short term solution for viable peace. Experts are more positive though, so there is hope.