The first round of meetings between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is over. The position of both sides is clearer and it is time to move on, as swiftly and decisively as possible towards a solution.
In the full knowledge that stalling and delaying tactics are an essential part of the politician's lexicon, it is high time the prevarication was brought to an end. No more beating about the bush, this most serious of political issues must be addressed now with a view to finalising actual arrangements, not talks about talks about further negotiations, that ultimately lead--expensively--nowhere. If all the money spent on such conferences and forums over the years had been invested in reclaiming land, we would surely, by now, have sufficient physical mass to offer a homeland to twice the population of Scandinavia. And let's not even think about the careers forged or the cash disbursed in getting us to this godforsaken point in Middle Eastern history.
Politicians of both political stripes claim to want peace but--as both sides are keen to stress--not peace at any price. Meanwhile, there is much discussion in the press of the likelihood of one side or the other being willing to "cave in" to pressure from the other.
The language is universally aggressive and confrontational when what the situation is crying out for is a modicum of reason; let's get the ball rolling with a bit of old-fashioned common sense.
Mr Netanyahu, one seasoned observer commented, "has long advocated a sort of supramunicipal model, in which Palestinians would self-govern isolated cantons in a sea of Jewish settlements in a still occupied West Bank". If that scenario is one in which Mr Netanyahu believes peace will flourish, think again Bibi; that is never going to happen.
Likewise, Palestinian demands for a right of return for the bulk of 4.5 million refugees. No way. I am not saying it shouldn't happen, I'm just saying what we all know, that it never will. It's a good negotiating ploy but there it stops. Sad but true.
If we save time, we save money and infinitely more important, we save lives. So let's begin with something we can...