Gideon Levy
Haaretz (Opinion)
January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

One upon a time there was a farmer who wanted to save on feed. Every day he would reduce the amount of food for his horse, see that it worked, and continue cutting and cutting until the horse had nothing to eat. The horse died.

This hackneyed tale has now been revived, emerging from the Palestine Papers leaked to the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

The Israeli farmer closed his hand, and the Palestinian horse was fit to die. One of them saved, the other expired. The Palestinians had already conceded most of their world, and greedy Tzipi Livni insisted: what about Har Homa and Maaleh Adumim?

Terror has stopped, they're coordinating targeted killings to serve Israel. Selling their souls to the devil, they're for the closure on Gaza. Mahmoud Abbas explains, like an Israeli propagandist, that the return of the refugees will destroy the state of Israel. Maybe 10,000 a year, they're still trying - in vain. Livni doesn't agree.

They conceded most of the settlements in Jerusalem, the Old City is also no longer exclusively in their hands, and nothing. Betar Ilit and Modi'in Ilit are ours, and that's not enough for Israel, as if it has forgotten that the 1967 borders are the Palestinian compromise.

What more do we want? What more will Israel ask of the dying horse, a moment before it gives up the ghost? A Palestinian state in greater Abu Dis? Hatikvah as its anthem? And what will happen then, when the horse dies? A wild pony will emerge that will never agree to live under the conditions of the old horse.

Never, but never, will Israel be offered a better deal than the one now revealed - and what came of it? Israeli rejection. Rejectionism. No, no,no, absolutely not.

And yes to what? To continuing the occupation, perpetuating the conflict. From now on we can say to our children: For Har Homa we'll continue living on the edge of the volcano. That is the terrible truth. The settlers have vanquished Israel. It is not hard to imagine how possible it would have been to return the West Bank to its owners had there not been hundreds of thousands of settlers living in it.

Were it not for this enterprise, there would have been peace. Now that it is established, Israel is no longer able to get up on its feet and extricate itself from its stranglehold.

Generations of Israeli diplomats have held discussions with their Palestinian counterparts, understanding the gravity of the moment, and even becoming more flexible, until the fear of the settlers seizes them. Neither Israel's security nor the country's future concerns them, only the fear of withdrawal, and none of them can overcome it.

They're always close to a solution, within reach and yet light-years away. All the peace proponents through the generations, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Livni, were fearful of taking the only step that would bring peace: evacuating settlements.

After the night when the documents were released by Al-Jazeera, with Livni represented by an announcer speaking English with a particularly repellent Israeli accent, a major uproar could have been expected the next day, not only in the Palestinian street and in the Arab world, but also in the streets of Israel.

And what a (predictable ) surprise: the Palestinians and the Arabs raised an outcry against the far-reaching concessions of the Palestinian Authority, threatening to crush it once and for all, and in Israel: silence.

Who cares about another fateful missed opportunity? Who cares that for this West Bank Story of real estate, Maaleh Adumim and Ariel, we are condemned to more lives of war, danger and ostracism.

Who cares that for a decade our leaders brazenly lied to us, deceived us by saying that there's no partner, that the Palestinians are evading giving answers, that there is no Palestinian proposal, and above all, that Israel wants peace, not the Palestinians.

We eagerly bought the lies, and now that they've been exposed, we remain apathetic. Riots? Protests? Fury at those who missed the chance and misled the nation? Not in our backyard.

Now the horse will gradually die. Once we said that Yasser Arafat was the last obstacle to an agreement, and that if he would just be removed peace would come. Now his successor, Abbas, will also fade away, the most moderate Palestinian leader of all time, deceived, bitter and despairing.

In Har Homa another neighborhood will be built, in the Balata refugee camp another generation will rise, determined to wage battle, and in the streets of Tel Aviv - the good times will roll.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017