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Israeli Deputy FM Ayalon and Palestinian PM Fayyad have canceled their press conference in New York after squabbling over whether they want “two states” or “two states for two peoples.”

Ayalon insisted on the “two peoples” formulation, which is actually too generous as it equates Palestinians to Jews. Ayalon took Fayyad’s refusal to sign the formula to mean that he was bent on having a mono-national Palestinian state and a bi-national Israel. But Israel is already a bi-national state—34% of her youth are Arabs—and the government refuses to abandon Israeli Arab enclaves to the Palestinian state.

As the settlement freeze is set to expire in four days, there is a rush of diplomatic activity to save the situation.

Everyone understands that, freeze or no freeze, Israel won’t be building in the outlying settlements, and construction in the settlement blocs will be kept to a bare minimum. Nevertheless, all parties are concerned with words rather than deeds. Netanyahu is trying to salvage his nationalist credentials by refusing to extend the moratorium. For a similar reason, Abbas insists on a total freeze as a condition for the talks. Obama wants talks if not peace, and so presses Netanyahu, whom he sees as the most amenable of the two.

By refusing to allow unrestricted construction in the settlement blocs, Israel gives the Arabs the impression that the blocs are also negotiable—which they probably are.

A Palestinian court refrained from imposing a death sentence on an Arab found guilty of selling land to a Jew. The Palestinian attorney general has appealed the ruling.

Land sales to Jews are banned in every Arab country, but Israel, of course, gives land to her Arabs free.

September 2010
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