The Israeli about whom the media seems to be obsessed is Avigdor Leiberman, Israel's foreign minister whose days in office will not be many since he's about to be indicted for all kinds of financial mayhem. Crude and authoritarian though he is (I have called him a "neo-fascist" twice in this space so I don't much like him) Lieberman, as it happens, believes in a two state solution. He lives in the territories, and he has pledged many times that he is willing to give up his home in the West Bank if peace with the Palestinians required it. This has actually been his position for a long time. But readers whose habits do not include the Israeli press even in translation will not know this basic fact. Lieberman is now almost everybody's anointed symbol for Israel, and they won't let go.

One of his crimes against the conventional wisdom is that he also believes that there are compromises that the Palestinians must also make to reach some agreement with Israel. Another is that he has said that Israel is not committed to the results of the Annapolis peace conference. I was there watching in slow motion what happened. It was dreary, dreary, dreary.  The brokers could hardly patch together an end-of-meetings statement. I was with Ehud Olmert, the most accommodating prime minister the Israelis have ever had, at the tail-end of negotiations.  He put the best face he could  on what was in the end a non-starter.


Now Saab Erekat, the long-time chief negotiator for the Palestinians, has given an interview to Al-Jazzera which tells the truth about Annapolis. And, for that matter, about Camp David eight years earlier, too. View and read the transcript of how this leading diplomatic figure in the bureaucracy of imagined Palestine recalls, first, Arafat's behavior in 2000 and, second, Mohammad Abbas' in November 2007. Erekat's conclusion: "Any arrangements regarding East Jerusalem are categorically unacceptable."