Israel's response to Palestine's UN victory is a 'deal breaker'

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 The Jewish settlement of Halamish
The Jewish settlement of Halamish Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

If there are still people who believe in the possibility of meaningful peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, these have been a deeply depressing twenty-four hours.

The two sides are marching in opposite directions. And the pace is quickening.

Israel's response to the Palestinians' crushing diplomatic victory at the United Nations late last night is both predictable but none the less provocative.

The plan is to construct three thousand new Jewish homes in the occupied West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem coupled with a promise to speed up planning procedures for settlements on land that would effectively cut any future Palestinian state in two.

That latter move has been described by one peace activist here as a "deal breaker" for the two state solution.

Immediately ahead of the General Assembly meeting, Israel's government played down its earlier threats of retribution.

Presumably, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with an election to fight, now worries that a lack of response would look weak.

He's sending an uncompromising message: we can built more settlements and we can build faster.

It could be this merely a marker and a bargaining chip to offer up in future negotiations.

The danger to Israel is that it risks offending even its staunchest allies in Europe and America.

The result, perhaps even greater isolation than was demonstrated in that one-sided vote in New York on Thursday.