TEL AVIV – Twenty years after the Oslo Accords, the prospects for a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal are dimmer than ever. Indeed, roughly a half-million Israeli settlers in the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem) make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state an almost impossible mission. So, is the renewed vigor of US President Barack Obama’s administration in the quest for peace too little, too late?
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claims that his government has no preconditions for resuming negotiations with the Palestinians. Meanwhile, his housing minister, Uri Ariel (himself a settler and a member of the annexationist Jewish Home party), unleashes a new wave of settlement expansion that threatens to link the 1967 border with the Jordan Valley, thus bisecting Palestinian territory. Netanyahu’s own insistence on “ironclad” security arrangements is a euphemism for an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley – and no return to the “Auschwitz borders” of 1967.