Less than three months remain until the elections, but chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich continues to play along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tendency to push the peace process out of the campaign.
Barak Ravid's report in Haaretz on Wednesday about Yacimovich's July talks in Paris with French President Francois Hollande revealed that the chairwoman of the party whose leaders signed the Oslo Accord has adopted some of the key positions of the leader who has spared no effort to bring about the downfall of that agreement.
Israeli diplomats who accompanied Yacimovich to her meetings said she told her hosts she supported the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and rejected the Palestinian demand to freeze construction in the settlements as a condition for renewing negotiations.
In response to the publication of her utterances at the talks in Paris, the chairwoman's advisers said the main problem is not the lack of diplomatic plans, but the willingness to implement them and conduct effective talks.
Indeed, Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, an approach that has won Yacimovich's support, raises obstacles on the road to the two-state solution. And indeed, Netanyahu's refusal to stop construction in the settlements during talks on a permanent-status agreement, a position that Labor's chief has adopted, does not allow effective talks to take place.
Netanyahu has used hindering conditions, like the demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and the continued development of the settlements, to cast responsibility for the diplomatic crisis on the Palestinians' doorstep. The worn excuse that "there is no partner" served as a springboard for the Labor Party, under Ehud Barak, to join Netanyahu's government. Except that even Barak now claims there is a real need to promote the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
The Labor Party under Yacimovich must make it clear that the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is not a precondition. Yacimovich must pledge that she will not join a government that builds settlements in the territories, over whose future she is supposed to conduct negotiations.
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