THE extent to which Israel lives in a world of its own could not have been revealed more clearly than it was by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at his press conference with Gordon Brown in London yesterday. He said, “The Israeli government has made significant efforts in the last four months” towards a resumption of peace negotiations and he invited the Palestinians to show the same “certain amount of fortitude and leadership” already displayed by Israel. Mr Netanyahu defined his “significant effort” as being his readiness (for the first time) to agree to recognise a Palestinian state on certain conditions. Since these conditions would require that Palestine was “demilitarised” and made no agreements with other states on military matters it is clear that this is a very one-sided sort of agreement. Add the insistence that Palestine should recognise Israel as a Jewish homeland -- a condition that would prove a stumbling block to any agreement on the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes now occupied by Israel -- and Mr Netanyahu's offer of recognition can be seen for the meaningless gesture it is. Significantly Mr Netanyahu made no reference to President Obama's call for a freeze on the Israeli settlements being built on Arab land -- the issue on which everyone in the real world is waiting for an answer. Without “fortitude and leadership” on this matter there will be no progress towards the two-state solution which the Israeli prime minister professes to support.


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