Dion Nissenbaum of McClatchy has the story. Netanyahu/Lieberman seem unwilling to budge on this issue. As even Yossi Alpher (former Mossad agent and respected analyst) notes in the story, their demand that the Palestinian side first recognize Israel as a "Jewish state" is a non-starter, because it completely tosses out the long-standing Palestinian demand (backed up, by the way, by both UN resolutions and international law) for the "right of return" for those refugees driven out in 1947-1948. (And yes, even top Israeli historians - among them the likes of Benny Morris, who now demonizes the Palestinian Arabs - admit that they were indeed driven out, in contrast to the "they-all-left-willingly" version propounded by Israel for decades.) Most obervers agree that there's no way that Israel will ever agree to let these thousands of people (and their descendants, whose rights are also involved) back in, and many Palestinians have accepted that and are willing to agree to some accommodation that at least recognizes the injustices that were done to them and allows at least a token number of Palestinians to return. But in contrast to Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert more recently (both of whom were ready to negotiate on this issue), Netanyahu/Lieberman leave no room at all. A huge step backward. . . and more ammunition for extremist elements who'd abandon any pretense of diplomacy (and, let's be real here, the diplomacy during the Bush years was more pretense and dog-and-pony show than anything else) and take up arms - or suicide-bomb belts - again. And that, truly, would be another huge step backwards.
The ball's in Barack's court.
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