Extract from an article in Issue 20, January 21, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. For full story please subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here to subscribe. After all the fanfare over November's Annapolis Middle East Peace Conference, and the truly moving speeches by the leaders, in particular by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, one must wonder what is going on. A tender is issued for some 300 houses to be built in the disputed Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa; Israel undertakes expanded incursions into Gaza; resumption of the construction of the controversial bridge to the Temple Mount is announced; and plans for a 10,000 housing-unit project - for Jews - in East Jerusalem are leaked, to say nothing of continued reports of government plans to retroactively legalize most of the unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank. All this just as negotiations - the negotiations, on the core issues and a peace agreement with the Palestinians are supposed to be underway. Aside from the matter of the Gaza incursions, which have their own set of domestic objectives, a number of explanations are possible with regard to the other steps: sabotage of Olmert's plans by members of his own administration, simple ignorance or stupidity on the part of the government, or a two-pronged policy to lull settler opponents while, nonetheless, intending ultimately to leave the occupied territories, and to conclude an agreement on Jerusalem. The Palestinians did not respond by suspending the opening of talks on December 12, but it was these events, primarily the settlement expansion, that reduced those talks to no more than a brief recriminatory exchange of accusations instead of the beginning of fruitful negotiations. We can only hope that these were simply initial glitches. If indeed serious negotiations are to take place, it would be wise to remember some of the causes of past failures. The single most important factor that led to Palestinian disillusionment with and ultimately abandonment of the policy of negotiation was the continuous Israeli expansion of settlements. No one development discredited the political-diplomatic path more thoroughly in Palestinian eyes, nor demonstrated more vividly the idea that Israel had no intention of leaving the occupied territories. Today, it makes a mockery of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's pro-peace position and flies in the face of Israeli commitments made at Annapolis. One may assume that Palestinian agreement to a return to the peace road map was based partly on its phase I requirement that Israel halt settlement construction and remove the outposts. This would be a most important measure of Israeli intent and help Abbas maintain Palestinian support for the process as a whole. Prof. Galia Golan, a Peace Now activist and professor of political science at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, is the author of the recently published "Israel and Palestine: Peace Plans and Proposals from Oslo to Disengagement." Extract from an article in Issue 20, January 21, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. For full story please subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here to subscribe.