One might almost begin to believe the news reports regarding negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The fact is that these are destined to go nowhere for the forseeable future. Here's why:
1. Everybody--the Americans, the Israelis and the Palestinians--know that the bottom line positions of the two sides are mutually incompatible. Israel cannot give the Palestinians the state they seek and remain viable herself.
2. The extremists on the Palestinian side will veto any potential agreement using violence and terrorism. This can be counted on.
3. The Americans are stretched thin militarily and diplomatically and cannot do anything unilaterally. They need the support of the Europeans for dealing with Iran, Iraq, N Korea and Syria.
4. It follows from 1-3 above, that, to help get Europe on board, the best course for the Americans is to create the illusion of diplomatic activity and that they are trying to solve the Middle East's problems. Thus all of Condy's trips. the November conference, etc.
5. It follows from 4, above, that Israel must cooperate with this game, knowing full well that it will lead nowhere, and that it must tread carefully in order to avoid being pressured into making compromises that jeapordize its current or future security. Thus, the talks with Abu Mazen, who is powerless to cancel a parking ticket, and trial balloons in the press every day.
If the past is any indication, it would seem that at some point the negotiations will blow up (again) and lead to a new wave of violence.