MAPS tend to get tatty after a while, folding the wrong way and tearing at points of crucial information. This is what has happened to the road map to peace between Israel and Palestine which was first drawn in 2002. It has been opened up and folded back so many times that it is no longer fit for purpose. That became clear yesterday when Condoleezza Rice, on her eighth visit to the region during her two years as US Secretary of State, could achieve nothing more than an announcement that a trilateral meeting involving Israel, Palestine and the United States will take place in three or four weeks. The aim of the meeting, according to a US official, will be to create a “political horizon” (whatever that may be) for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

This announcement followed the blunt rejection by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, of a proposal by Dr Rice that the Palestinians should agree to establish a provisional state within temporary borders. The American negotiators must be very naïve indeed to think any Palestinian leader would accept such a deal that would make the temporary borders permanent for as long as Israel chose to refuse to go back to the 1967 lines. Whether the forthcoming trilateral meeting will get anywhere must be open to doubt. Missing from the meeting will be representatives of the elected Hamas government of Palestine, an absence that will render problematical any agreement reached.


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