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One of the failures of holistic theories, says Karl Popper, is that they are impossible to refute since any argument against them can be changed to fit the desired world view. The more heated the debate around the Geneva understandings, the more it becomes clear that the assumption that `there's nobody to talk to' falls into that Popperian definition of a theory that cannot be disproved because it changes form according to need.

Setting out the various ways used to rebuff the argument there is someone to talk to, might help make clear the nature of the dead end that public discourse has reached. The following arguments come up every time there is hope that there is someone to talk to. The Palestinian ready to sit down and talk with Israelis about the future of the region - let's call him or her the "speaker" - is immediately ruled out through one of the following arguments or a combination of several of the following:

* The speaker is still alive. In the past, whoever spoke with Israelis about significant issues, for example Dr. Issam Sartawi, was murdered by Palestinians. The fact that the speaker is still not dead is proof of his utter inconsequence, so therefore whatever he says cannot be taken seriously; or he's not telling the truth, which is why he hasn't been killed.

* If the speaker is using English, German or even Hebrew, it is assumed he is saying something else in Arabic and therefore only what he says in Arabic should be listened to, and what he says is doubtless incitement.

* If the speaker publishes what he said in Arabic, Hebrew and English, and is still not murdered by Palestinians, that means he is from East Jerusalem, and an intellectual, and therefore not truly of Palestinian society and represents only himself.

* If the speaker is a key figure in Palestinian public affairs, but holds independent views and positions, there's no significance to what he has to say. Anyone can declare he or she is ready for a peace agreement, the question is who is obliged by what gets said.

* If the speaker is a member of the current Palestinian leadership, belonging to this or that grouping of the regime - Fatah, for example - and his statements might sound like a commitment, it is clear that he is operating as an Arafat envoy and is nothing but a pawn in Arafat's hands, and intends to deceive naive leftists.

* If the speaker is well known and connected to the Palestinian Authority and declares he is ready to reach an agreement with a group of Israeli public representatives and publish that agreement in Hebrew and Arabic, and try to win public support for it, we are warned that the speaker only has the authority to speak, not to sign anything. The question, say the critics of the process, is not whom to speak with, but with whom it's possible to sign something.

* If the Arab world does not support the speaker's statements then they surely are worthless, because without sweeping support from the Arab world, there's no agreement.

* If the Arab world does support what the speaker says, then it is clear evidence that the speaker is serving Arab interests and all the speaker's proposals must therefore be rejected out of hand.

* Finally, the strongest argument of all is made by Ehud Barak, who says the Palestinians, like all the Arabs, "are the product of a culture in which to tell a lie does not cause them any dissonance,' so even if they talk and even if they sign, one should never believe them.

It should be noted that the invention and development of the "nobody to talk to" theory was a matter of political genius. Through it, the assumption that we are fated to fight the Palestinians forever will last for us, our children, and our children's children. It guarantees eternal Israeli deafness to new voices and messages coming out of the Palestinian camp unless those voices and messages are accompanied by the ricochets of gunshots or the reverberations of explosions. And most of all, it enables the Israeli public to continue grasping the "no alternative" theory in which we, of course, want an agreement, but there's no choice, because until some worthy interlocutor comes along, we don't have to make any decisions about our future, because there's nobody to talk to.