The messages are mixed and yet there is hope that progress can be made in the Middle East. Obama plays the right mood music. The appointment of George Mitchell is to be welcomed hugely; the man's independence and track record speaks for itself. But then there is Hilary Clinton giving words of support for Israeli actions that most across the world condemn. Maybe she has to - good cop, bad cop - but her business-as-usual signals suggest that the hope could prove forlorn.
I don't think the majority of Israelis have the slightest desire to create a genuinely viable and independent Palestinian state. At most I imagine they foresee some kind of economic colony, which may explain the destruction of factories, flour mills and food processing businesses in Gaza. There will have to be a huge change in Israeli perceptions if Palestinian ideas are to be realised and selling a deal that involved this would go far beyond the ability of Israeli politicians alone. Nothing is possible without Obama, certainly don't waste your time looking to the EU for leadership (I despair!).
How do you even start to address the racist fact that too many Israelis seem to believe that a Palestinian life is not as important as one of their own?
Francis Wurtz, the French leader of the GUE (left) group in the European Parliament, has just returned from Gaza. Read his account here, and demand to know why European leaders have not demanded an immediate suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement.