AS US SECRETARY of State John Kerry put the finishing touches on his long-awaited“ framework ” for further negotiations with the Palestinians, the Israeli right began to show increasing signs of distress. Right-wingers – from the hawks in the Likud, through the national religious settler-oriented Bayit Yehudi and the Judea and Samaria Settlers’ Council to hard-line fundamentalist rabbis – mounted a virulent campaign designed to discredit Kerry and derail the process he has been trying to broker.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did little to dissociate himself from the vituperative anti-Kerry rhetoric and for the first time since the secretary rekindled the stalled peace talks last July, the Americans seemed to falter. They delayed presenting the framework document, made it clear that it would not be binding and assured the parties that they would be free to disagree publicly with any of its terms they found hard to swallow.

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