There is an unmistakable tinge of insanity creeping into the U.S. effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It takes form in the embarrassing desperation of Condoleeza Rice, as she countenances the increasing implausibility of the Annapolis conference with ever more florid and urgent declarations of the imperative of creating a Palestinian state. It takes form in the haphazard manner in which the U.S. has jettisoned virtually every requirement arrived upon in previous negotiations, most notably the unannounced dismissal of the 2003 Roadmap. And this creeping insanity takes form most strikingly in the refusal of U.S. strategists to deal seriously with the array of facts on the ground, facts that would undermine any print-on-paper agreements arising from Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Rice arrived in Israel yesterday—her eighth visit in the past year—to continue cajoling her interlocutors toward Annapolis. “Now we are talking about a joint document that will seriously and substantively address core issues. We have come quite a long way. We’ve got quite a long way to go,” she said. Actually, we have not come a long way. Anyone familiar with even the most basic outlines of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking knows that in all but the finest details, everything being negotiated today has been negotiated dozens of times before in summits and conferences and shuttle diplomacy and secret meetings undertaken by every U.S. administration stretching back decades: borders, refugees, Jerusalem, water, security, etc.