August 27, 2008
Meron Benvenisti in an excellent article mentions the ‘success of the propaganda campaign known as ‘negotiations with the Palestinians,’ which convinces many that the status quo is temporary.’ There’s indeed no better way to describe the ongoing talks between the two politicians living on borrowed time – Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas – than as a pastime orchestrated by the Bush administration. In the past, peace talks were supposed to lead to a peace agreement, which would in turn lead to peace; now, not even that little is assumed. What the negotiations are expected to yield is at best a ‘shelf agreement’ to be implemented at some vague point in the future, or not. No one believes such an agreement can be reached, as agreed, by the end of this year, but even the shelf doesn’t really care.
But the show must go on. Last week the papers announced a great leap forward: Olmert’s Israel has submitted a detailed proposal for the final status. In true negotiations, one could have said: Now we know what Israel wants. This is not the case, since everybody knows Prime Minister Olmert is no longer relevant. So what’s the value of the proposal? We don’t really know what Israel wants, but at least we can see what Israel is willing to say.