Rosen has been regarded as one of the most authoritative U.S. analysts
on Israel. For 23 years, Rosen served as foreign policy director of the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the chief lobbying group for
Israel, and was recently appointed director of the Washington Project at the
Middle East Forum. Over the last year, Rosen and another former AIPAC
staffer were prosecuted and cleared of charges of espionage for Israel.
"I think Benjamin Netanyahu has gone through a personal evolution a
little like my own," Rosen said. "He continues to be profoundly skeptical
that signing a piece of paper can put an end to this conflict. Nevertheless,
he has come back to a second term as prime minister with a deeper
appreciation of the reality that his relations with the United States,
Europe, and moderate Arab neighbors depend on the perception that he can be
a partner in the search for diplomatic progress with the Palestinians."
The report said Netanyahu's new approach led him to agree to a U.S.
demand for a freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank. At the same
time, the prime minister has been "making a series of additional concessions
to [President] Barack Obama and his Mideast peace envoy, George Mitchell."
"Their current priority is negotiating 'terms of reference' to permit
the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," the report said. "While
no one was watching, Netanyahu has in fact agreed to language that Mitchell
can accept. With the Israeli agreement in his pocket, Mitchell is now
working to bring [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas around, according to sources
close to the discussions."
The report said Abbas has been demanding a full Israeli withdrawal from
the West Bank, a two-year deadline for a permanent agreement, repatriation
and compensation for Palestinians or their descendants who lost their homes
in Israel's war of independence in 1948 as well as acceptance of the Saudi
peace initiative of 2002. The PA chairman has also rejected any Israeli
proposal for an interim agreement.
"Mitchell has not announced the agreement with Netanyahu because
delicate negotiations with Abbas still lie ahead," the report said. "Now, a
month later, the work on the Israeli side is done. Netanyahu has put the
ball in the Palestinian court."