There is always something going on that ultimately truncates efforts to conclude peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a conflict where the element of time, always said to be of the utmost, is eventually sacrificed. The Palestinians wait while the world goes on. It is no wonder that in the aftermath of the US midterm elections last week and the resounding defeat of President Barak Obamas Democratic Party in Congress that the Palestinians are once again expected to wait until the dust settles in Washington and the White House embraces a new game plan. By the same token the Israelis, who are experts in manipulating US domestic politics, will use the election results to come up with a new game plan of their own. They know how to play the waiting game and they will find ways to frustrate Palestinian aspirations for independence even further. The Palestinians have been waiting in the corridors of the United Nations ever since the international body adopted its first resolution on the conflict almost six decades ago. For many years they had refused to recognize their enemy and paid a hefty price. When they finally decided to play along, almost 20 years ago, they got lucky. The Cold War had ended and a new world order was welcomed. In the aftermath of the first Gulf War and Iraqs eviction of Kuwait, President Bush Sr. decided that the time had come to wrap up the oldest conflict in the Middle East and bring Arabs and Israelis together. The Israelis resisted and procrastinated but then a new leader with a bold vision emerged. Yitzhak Rabin put Israel on a new course that called for the recognition of the PLO, reconciliation with the Palestinians and reaching a historic settlement based on the two-state solution. That first half of the 1990s was unique in the history of Palestinian struggle for liberation. The waiting game was about to end and in the aftermath of the signing of the Washington Accords the road to statehood appeared to be clear. But those good times were abruptly reduced. Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli radical and the road to peace suddenly reached a dead-end. Futile attempts, under President Bill Clinton, were made to recover the momentum but by the end of the 1990s the shifting sands of the desert had overcome all. Israel was leaning to the right and the legacy of Rabin had been forgotten. The waiting game had resumed. The beginning of the new millennium kick-started a process of diminishing returns for the Palestinians. Their Intifada had become militant and it gave successive Israeli governments the pretext to reverse what had been agreed to in Oslo and Washington. Yasser Arafat was besieged, he waited too for a last-minute rescue mission, but it never came. He died in exile and with him ended an era of Palestinian leadership. Under President George Bush Jr. the world had changed yet again. The new world order that his father had ushered in gave way to new realities and it started on an ominous day that will live in infamy; 9/11. Not only were the Palestinians expected to wait until the US finishes with its war on terror, but worse than that. They themselves were branded by their foes as terrorists. A war in Afghanistan and another in Iraq and the Palestinians saw their fortunes dwindle with each passing day. The few attempts to restart peace talks were feeble at best. Foreign envoys came and left and initiatives were proposed but there was always something that kept the peace wagon dead in its tracks. A new Palestinian leadership emerged and it joined hands with Israel to fight extremists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It waited for the rewards, but they never came. Meanwhile the terrain had changed both politically and on the ground. While the Palestinians waited for the resumption of negotiations, Israel expanded its settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. It built a barrier wall that snaked through Palestinian territories. The noose was tightening around the neck of Palestinians; their farmlands was being expropriated, Gaza was relinquished and then bombarded and besieged, West Bank towns and villages were isolated from each other and Arab residents of Jerusalem were systematically squeezed out of their homes and shops. Israel had changed the game plan entirely. Today it refuses to abide by any of its previous commitments. Everything is to be negotiated from the beginning, although its position on almost all the issues has been pre-determined; on Jerusalem, refugees, borders, the Jordan Valley, water, security, sovereignty and others. Then there was a rekindling of hope. President Barack Obama was elected and he promised change, and his pledge to restart the stalemated peace process rejuvenated the Palestinians. The waiting was almost over, although they were now divided and more desperate. Israel, once more, found ways to procrastinate and maneuver. Almost two years had passed since Obamas election and nothing much had changed for the peace process. Meanwhile, the PNA continued to abide by its undertaking to work with Israel on security. In the West Bank it has been building the infrastructure of its future independent state - and waiting for the day of deliverance. And few weeks ago the proverbial process was restarted, at least in principle. But no sooner had it started than it was crippled again; over settlements. The Palestinians waited for the US to come to their rescue. But it never did. Then the midterm elections changed everything. As a result Israel is now ready to alter the game plan, yet again. It will take weeks for Obama to re-engineer his strategy in the Middle East. Israel would want the focus to be on Iran and its nuclear threat. President Obama has been weakened at home and it is unlikely that he will risk a showdown with Israels Benjamin Netanyahu. The chips are down and the Palestinians have no cards to play in spite of the hubris and the sound bites from President Mahmoud Abbas. Once again the Palestinians are forced to sit on their hands and wait. They have paid dearly for this over the past years. Israel will use the coming two years to waste time and scuttle efforts. The Palestinian state, which President Obama, hinted that it could emerge in one years time, will just have to wait, maybe indefinitely Osama Al Sharif is a veteran journalist and political commentator based in Jordan Arab news