On the first stop of a three week fact finding  trip with an US advocacy group for peace in the Middle East and having talked with several retired Israeli generals, a leading left wing Israeli journalist, an Israeli citizen Palestinian Christian Archbishop and an official of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I am shifting already from asking whether my interlocutors think that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations  are dead or alive to asking what they think they are about. All agree that both  the Israeli public and leaders are comfortable with the situation as it is, even though closed door talks may lead to resumed face to face negotiations. From the outside it is assumed that these negotiations will be about a two state solution, creating a sovereign Palestinian state. Israel would return to 1967 borders – with land swap adjustments agreed between the two parties. A briefing by UNOCHA, however, included maps that show the impact of Israeli settlement expansion (whatever the swaps), and that is to cut off the northern part of a proposed Palestinian state from the southern part. There might be a road tunnel under an Israeli controlled road that would make a transportation link between  the two parts possible but there would be no contiguous territory – in effect a three “state” solution. It is important for those interested in an Israeli-Palestinian settlement  to reject a phony two state solution. Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians are crucial in this framework. Focusing attention on these violations is  more than condemning evictions and the myriad of aggressive acts against Palestinians. These violations are changing the final outcome. Israelis appear to be successfully playing for time until the hollowness of their limited acceptance of a two state solution becomes apparent.

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