The deadline the Quartet gave Israel and the Palestinians for submitting their positions on security and borders - Thursday, January 26 - flew by. It's as if it never existed.
The Quartet's plan, which was to bring the parties from the UN struggle to the negotiating table, is about to be relegated to history's graveyard of missed opportunities. The general positions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu submitted last week through his envoy Isaac Molho during talks in Jordan are a blatant attempt to saddle the Palestinians with responsibility for the negotiations' failure.
Netanyahu might know that his refusal to present a map based on the June 4, 1967 borders and a realistic land-swap proposal is a surefire recipe for a continued freeze in the negotiations. Any rational person understands that a territorial plan of lesser scope and quality than the one the two previous prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, presented the Palestinians is doomed to diplomatic failure and deteriorating security. But worryingly, the diplomatic process, whose purpose is to ensure Israel's very existence as a Jewish and democratic state, is being shunted to the sidelines of the political and media discourse.
Netanyahu, with Barak's help, has turned the Iranian nuclear threat into an impressive ploy to distract attention from settlement policy and the perpetuation of the occupation. He has taken advantage of President Barack Obama's preoccupation with the U.S. presidential elections and Obama's fear of the Jewish right.
Rival parties on Israel's center and left have adopted a policy of unilateral disengagement from Palestinian issues. Kadima is busy with infighting, the Labor Party prefers to focus on social issues, and Yair Lapid, the new immigrant to the political arena, has decided that peace is for dreamers.
The death certificate of negotiations based on the two-state solution is a badge of shame for Israeli society. It's hard to understand how a society that has so impressively brought social injustice to the top of the agenda has fallen victim to our nationalist-religious leaders' criminal ploy and the irresponsible opposition's helplessness.
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