Victoria Nuland
Victoria NulandIsrael news photo: Screenshot from State Dept.

Washington has resumed pressuring Israel on the ultimate goal of dividing Jerusalem and handing Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority in what it deems the “two-state solution” for peace, albeit with more subtlety than during President Barack Obama's first term in office. 

Obama has not yet called Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his obvious victory in last week's national elections, although it is clear that Netanyahu will be asked to form the next coalition government. In fact, not one international leader has done so. But the U.S. president, representing ostensibly Israel's biggest ally and "best friend" would have been expected to make that call the day after the votes were counted.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists at a briefing Friday the Obama administration will return to its goal of reviving talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the issue.

However, she added the U.S. realizes that Israel has only just emerged from national elections, and a coalition government has not yet been formed.

Until that goal is accomplished – which could take up to six weeks – there is no way for the United States or anyone else in the international community to know with whom they or the PA must negotiate.

“We are at the stage now... where we’re going to have to wait and see what the makeup of the Israeli government is going to be, and how it approaches the longstanding critical issues that we share,” Nuland acknowledged.

Nevertheless, Nuland made it clear that the U.S. is determined to keep up the pressure on Israel to work towards a two-state solution that would result in a PA state that could push Israel back to the indefensible 1949 Armistice Line, known worldwide as the “1967 borders” – including the re-division of Israel’s capital and Judaism’s holiest city, Jerusalem.

“We know where we want to go, and we know where we believe they also want to go. If we can be helpful, we will continue to try.” She refused to answer whether any concessions would be demanded of PA Chairman Mahmous Abbas.

Last week, U.S. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Robert Serry said in a statement, "We are entering a critical period in which concerted action will be vital if we are to salvage the two-state solution. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have stated, like us, that they are convinced that the two-state solution is the only path toward a durable peace."

“But they should realize that absent serious engagement, the peace process will remain on life-support and stability on the ground will be put at risk event further.  The consequences for inaction could be dire for everyone,” he said.

The phrase “serious engagement” has in the past been used as diplomatic code for forced concessions to be made by Israel that endanger the lives of her citizens, particularly those living in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.