If committed peace-processors such as Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak were unable to solve the "core issues" in the decade after the Oslo Accords, then what makes Olmert think he can do so in just 12 months?
There is a big headline in the Ha'aretz newspaper today, and it's the kind of headline that makes you scratch your head and wonder about the sanity of those in positions of power.
"Olmert seeks accord on 'core issues' within a year", says the paper, noting in its report that, "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hopes to reach an agreement on all the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within a year, the premier said in conversations with both Israeli officials and foreign diplomats over the last few days."
Behind the rather innocuous-sounding term "core issues", of course, lie various matters such as the future of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. If committed peace-processors such as Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak were unable to solve the "core issues" in the decade after the Oslo Accords, then what makes Olmert think he can do so in just 12 months?
Moreover, it is astonishing just how Mr. Olmert's optimism is so radically disconnected from the reality on the ground. Even as he was busy having those conversations with Israeli and foreign officials, the Palestinians were ratcheting up their daily rocket attacks on Israel's southern cities.
And just with whom does Olmert plan to forge a deal? He is negotiating with Mahmoud Abbas, whose control over the Palestinians doesn't extend much beyond the desk of his secretary. So even if Olmert were to finalize matters with Abbas, what value would such a deal have in the first place?
Sometimes, it really, truly does seem that the Emperor has gone mad, as I'm sure many citizens of ancient Rome used to mutter to themselves from time to time. The only problem is that as he descends into madness, he runs the risk of taking the future of Israel with him.