Yossi Sarid
Haaretz (Opinion)
July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

This column joins in the call: Let's have proximity talks. For the talks are close, but the proximity is far off.

It is not by chance that Benjamin Netanyahu has so far refrained from responding to the questions of the mediator who, had he not identified himself as the representative of a great power, would be suspected of loitering. Why reply, as long as it is possible to put him off with empty verbiage, and every delay is for the best?

In order to live for the moment and forfeit eternity, Netanyahu will never tire of searching for a new pretext for treading water. He will search every dark corner with candles, which are soon liable to turn into memorial candles.

First he made progress conditional on the Palestinians agreeing to recognize the Jewish state - as if Israel's existence depended on what they say, as if anyone but the person concerned can define his right to exist and his identity. Then he made it conditional on an end to violence: Let the terror stop, and then we'll talk. Now, we have his demand for direct negotiations.

Grant Netanyahu his wish, since he has promised to surprise everyone and sign an agreement within a year. Let the miracle happen, and we shall be as dreamers.

And indeed, a miracle is called for. The talks this time will be more complex than ever before, since everything has turned upside down.

This time, the Palestinians are the ones who will demand that Israel stop the terror, perpetrated by the cursed inhabitants of the Har Bracha settlement. Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad have succeeded where Netanyahu and Ehud Barak have failed.

The Palestinian Authority dealt with the terrorists in their territory and overcame them; it imposed law and order in the West Bank. The government of Israel, in contrast, has been defeated by the abominable hilltop youths of Yitzhar, who this week once again crawled out of their caves to set a "price tag," burning field after field.

And if the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service insist on their own contribution to the current quiet, the Palestinian security services are hereby invited to offer their help. Perhaps they, with their proven experience, can manage to catch the torchers of mosques who still walk free and the rabbis who incite to murder by basing themselves on Jewish religious law. A revolving door is better than a door that never closes on these Israeli pogromists.

The Palestinians' starting position is better than ours: They have fulfilled most of their obligations under the road map peace plan, while we have not removed even one of the illegal outposts we were supposed to dismantle. Moreover, they may demand at the outset that we put an end to the incitement against Israeli Arabs and their elected representatives and annul the racist laws the Knesset has recently been approving so lavishly.

Netanyahu is incarcerated in the jail of his coalition and fettered with the chains of his parental home. The cards he is holding close to his chest are bits of paper on which he has written the main points of speeches like the one he gave at Bar-Ilan University.

In two months' time, the momentum of construction in the settlements will be resumed - and this, too, is a kind of violence. And the roar of the bulldozers will shake the negotiating table.

At that point, the international community will have to figure out how to digest the goose it cooked for itself. America will have to decide how to handle Netanyahu: with the stick of Election Day or the stick of D-Day. The Palestinians will have to decide whether to switch to unilateral moves or continue moaning about their bad luck.

And we, the citizens of Israel, will have to consider the new proposal by the priests of the right - establishing a binational state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps that is the way - the last road of the Zionist enterprise. Perhaps the time has come to begin saying the "Hear O Israel" prayer that one recites before dying.


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