Upon returning from Cairo on Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu proclaimed, "It's time to move the peace process forward."
The most sympathetic interpretation of Netanyahu's proclamation is that he was engaging in political theater. It was a low and dishonest statement uttered at the end of what has been, in the immortal words of W.H. Auden, "a low and dishonest decade."
Everyone with eyes in their heads knows that there is no chance of making peace with the Palestinians. First of all, the most Israel is willing to give is less than what the Palestinians are willing to accept.
But beyond that, Gaza is controlled by Hamas, and Hamas is controlled by Iran.
For its part, Fatah is not in a position to make peace even if its leaders wished to. Mahmoud Abbas and his deputies know that just as Hamas won the 2006 elections in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Hamas would win elections today. To maintain even a smudge of domestic legitimacy, Fatah's leaders have no choice but to adopt Hamas's rejection of peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state.
Clearly, now is not the time "to move the peace process forward."
No less than what it tells us about Netanyahu, his statement is notable for what it tells us about Israel. Our continued willingness to ensnare ourselves in the rhetoric of peace processes demonstrates how little we have progressed in the past decade.
In 1999, Netanyahu was ejected from office by an electorate convinced that he was squandering an historic opportunity for peace between Israel and its neighbors. A majority of Israelis believed that Netanyahu's signature policies of demanding that the Palestinians abide by their commitments to Israel, and maintaining the IDF's security zone in south Lebanon were dooming all hope for peace.
His successor, Ehud Barak, promised to remove IDF troops from Lebanon and forge a final peace with the Palestinians and with Syria within a year. After winning the election, Barak famously promised a swooning crowd at Rabin Square that the "dawn of a new day has arrived."
Barak lost no time fulfilling his campaign promises. He withdrew the IDF from south Lebanon in May 2000.
He launched talks with Syria in December 1999. For four months he begged Syrian dictator Hafez Assad to accept the Golan Heights, stopping only after Assad harshly rebuffed him in March 2000.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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