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In an op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wrote that the Palestinian initiative to obtain international recognition for an independent state along the 1967 borders is not a stunt.

Approaching the United Nations, he wrote, was aimed at assuring the basic right of the Palestinian people to live freely in an independent state along the June 4, 1967 borders, i.e., in 22% of Mandatory Palestine.

Abbas repeated the Arab League formula for a just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee problem on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 194. He also said that the decision to approach the international community came after years of fruitless negotiations with Israel about permanent arrangements, and Israel's continuing control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the Knesset plenum on Monday strengthens the Palestinian claim that direct diplomacy with Israel is a dead end, and justifies the Palestinians' petition to the United Nations.

Only minutes after praising Theodor Herzl, who in fact knew how to adapt his vision to changing realities, Netanyahu sketched out a diplomatic plan devoid of vision and totally detached from the new reality developing in the region.

On the eve of his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and his address to a joint session of Congress, Netanyahu presented obsolete positions. He refrained from mentioning the 1967 borders as a starting point for a final-status arrangement, and committed to demanding a military presence along the Jordan River, to perpetuating the annexation of East Jerusalem and to demanding Palestinian recognition of Israel as the home of the Jewish people.

The prime minister even made canceling the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas a condition for resuming negotiations.

Government policy, as expressed in Netanyahu's speech, will end up isolating Israel to a point that it could face economic and cultural sanctions similar to those once imposed on apartheid South Africa. Responsibility for such a crisis will lay squarely on the shoulders of the prime minister and his colleagues at the top of the diplomatic ladder. The price will be paid by the public, partying on a slippery slope.