How to ruin the chances of Middle East peace

Michael Shaik, from Australians for Palestine, writes in Murdoch’s Australian:

In 1973, Ariel Sharon announced his intention to make a “pastrami sandwich” of the Palestinians by building strips of settlements across the West Bank, “so that in 25 years’ time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart”. Today, 40 per cent of the West Bank is under the control of the settlers as the pastrami slices thicken and Palestinian transport, agriculture and commerce are stifled by the web of Israeli-only settlement roads that link up the settlements.

While that strange constellation of Jewish irredentists, Christian fundamentalists, neoconservatives, Hamas hardliners, Iranian mullahs and advocates of global jihad will no doubt welcome the quiet death of the road map, it is unlikely any other party will benefit from a return to a peace process of empty gestures.

As the last prospects of a viable Palestinian state collapse, Israel is changing from a Jewish state into an Arab country ruled by a Jewish minority. Rather than marking the beginning of a new era, Obama’s Cairo address seems destined to be remembered as a footnote in the tragic history of US Middle East diplomacy.