By Seth Freedman
guardian.co.uk, Thursday July 31 2008
".........Olmert's post-Annapolis volte-face, in which he signed promises to freeze settlement activity with one hand, then approved expanding Har Homa with the other, demonstrated a lack of trustworthiness on his part, as well as that of his advisors. The reputation for duplicity and double handedness which has dogged him throughout his political career was bolstered in no small part by the affair, and did nothing to bridge the ever-widening political gulf between the Israeli authorities and the PA......
Despite all the high level posturing and decades-old declarations that Israel is desperate to grant independence to the Palestinian people, while the politicians fiddle, the road map burns. Settlements expand, the separation wall robs entire villages of their farmland and livelihood, Palestinian civilians are shot with impunity, or languish for years in administrative detention on trumped-up charges – and all in the so-called pursuit of peace. No matter that the net effect of such cruel and oppressive collective punishment merely drives the Palestinian populace into the arms of the extremists; if the Israeli government says it wants peace, then it must be true.
Olmert is no more or less guilty of such chicanery than other Israeli politicians, hence his heading for the exit is unlikely to do much more than usher in yet another period of two-faced doubletalk, and yet further stagnation in the Israel-Palestine arena. While it's true that a more popular figure, such as Tzipi Livni, might have more of a solid platform on which to engage in truly fair and honest peace negotiations, the chances of tangible progress are pretty slim, given past governments' performance. As one door closes, another one may well open – but while the Palestinians are still very much out in the cold, it's of scant difference to them who's running the show."