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Israel legalizes three more West Bank settlement outposts

The decision, which is part of a broader settlement expansion, could pave the way for similar legalizations. Prospects for meaningful peace talks just grew dimmer.

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How moribund is the so-called peace process? Yossi Beilin, an Israeli negotiator who was one of the lead negotiators of the 1993 Oslo Accords that led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority, and of the Geneva Initiative that held so much promise of peace almost nine years ago, appears to have lost faith. In a piece for this paper almost exactly a year ago, Mr. Beilin was still full of hope. His article was titled "The Geneva Accord: a breakthrough model" and he wrote:

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With pre-1967 lines (the Green Line) as our starting point, we devised a series of agreed-upon, minor land swaps on a reciprocal, one-to-one basis, according to a formula that would require Israel to evacuate the smallest number of settlements while granting Palestinians the greatest part of the land.The result is a model that would create a Palestinian state on nearly 98 percent of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the shortfall compensated for by territories inside the Green Line.... The key to our success in reaching a comprehensive agreement was not in the specific solution we offered to each issue – although there was also a lot of creative thinking there, too – but rather in the concurrence of the solutions we offered... My colleagues and I – both Israeli and Palestinian – have pledged to work together and within our respective communities to turn Geneva into reality. We hope that people of goodwill around the world will join us in our pursuit of a just and lasting peace between our two peoples, so that we may live side by side in freedom and security as equal neighbors.

Yet on April 4, this is what Mr. Beilin wrote in a Foreign Policy article addressed to Abbas, using his nom de guerre, titled "Dear Abu Mazen: End This Farce":

Because there have never been serious negotiations with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the last three years, and because you did not want to perpetuate the myth that a meaningful dialogue existed, you have been sorely tempted to declare the death of the "peace process" -- but the American president urged you to maintain the status quo. It is a mistake to agree to Obama's request, and you can rectify this... The Oslo Accords were a tremendous victory for the peace camps on both sides. And this agreement did not fail. It was thwarted. The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Palestinian terrorism, and the political victories of the opponents of the agreement -- both on the Palestinian side and on the Israeli side -- have turned the agreement into a device that has allowed the parties to block a two-state solution...

Dissolving the Palestinian Authority and returning daily control to Israel would be an action nobody could ignore... Do not hesitate for a moment! Do not accept the request of President Obama, who merely wants to be left undisturbed before election day. Do not let Prime Minister Netanyahu hide behind the fig leaf of the Palestinian Authority -- impose upon him, once again, the responsibility for the fate of 4 million Palestinians. Remain as the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which will give you the authority to lead the political negotiations if and when they resume. But for the sake of your own people, and for the sake of peace, you cannot let this farce continue.

Follow Dan Murphy on Twitter.

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