The mainstream discourse is preoccupied with whether a deal can be struck, and worries not at all about its fairness or about the process that features a partisan mediator or about Palestinian representation issues (neither inclusive nor legitimate). It speculates that maybe it will be possible to strike a bargain because Israel regards Iran as an existential threat and the PA is weak and badly wishes to solidify its claims to lead some kind of Palestinian entity, and of course the U.S. Government is most eager of all because Obama needs some kind of foreign policy success and it would be a step toward reducing anti-Americanism in the region.
At the moment M. Abbas insists that unless the settlement freeze for the 90 day period is extended to East Jerusalem there will be no resumption of negotiations. Netanyahu is beset by settler militancy, but has been gifted such a bribe by the U.S. that it is hard to imagine that some sort of ambiguous freeze arrangement will be accepted. It still seems likely that U.S./Israeli leverage will revive a negotiating process beset with obstacles from a Palestinian perspective.
An almost condition of the negotiations is that whatever is agreed upon is final so far as Palestinian any future demands are concerned. This reinforces the importance of assessing the adequacy of the process and of Palestinian representation. It also shows how impossible it seems to be that anything will emerge that can be reconciled with even a minimal construction of Palestinian rights or expectations.
There are three severe shortcomings of the peace process as now constituted: (1) the excessive influence of the United States due to its dual role of unconditional ally of Israel and self-appointed ‘honest broker’ for the negotiations; (2) exclusion of any assessment of contested issues by reference to international law, including borders, Jerusalem, settlements, water, refugees- on each of these issues the Palestinian claims accord with international law, while the Israeli position does not, and thus exclusion of international law guidelines from the peace process impairs profoundly prospects for Palestnian self-determination achieved by way of inter-governmental negotiations. (3) exclusion of any consideration of the historical context that if considered would imprint a colonial character on the Zionist Project from at least the time of its endorsement in the London Balfour Declaration of 1917, and which over time has turned the Israeli governing process into one that combines ethnic cleansing, the crime of apartheid, and settler colonialism.
A further observation: the likely presentation of a land swap in exchange for the incorporation of settlement blocs into Israel is both deceptive and sets a trap with regard to Palestinian search for self-determination: what Israel seems prepared to offer is either desert wasteland in the Negev or Palestinian communities situated in the Galilee region of Israel or some combination. The latter would really achieve two Israeli goals in exchange for essentially nothing: somewhat legitimate Israeli sovereign claims with respect to the settlement blocs and at the same time contribute to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians currently resident behind ‘the green line.’