Defense Minister Ehud Barak may have been quick to announce that US President Barack Obama is days away from announcing a new plan for comprehensive peace in the Middle East, but not all in the US administration seem to share the enthusiasm.
According to a Saturday report in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, speculations about a nearing peace summit are premature.
The newspaper quotes US sources as saying that at this time, the White House wants to focus on three aspects: Having Israel halt settlement expansion, seeing the Palestinian Authority advance security issues and ensuring some overtures by the Arab nations, ahead normalizing their relations with Israel.
According to the sources, US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell has reported a breakthrough after his last visit to the region, adding that the administration has reason to be "cautiously optimistic" as to the prospects of reigniting bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Nevertheless, the sources stipulated that all three conditions must materialize if any further progress is to be made.
The US sources told al-Hayat that Israeli media reports suggesting that Obama might announce a new peace plan during the next UN general assembly meeting "were inaccurate."
At this time, they said, Obama's efforts are focused on "creating the proper regional atmosphere."