There is agreement on very little in the fractious Holy Land, but on one issue there is near unanimity these days: A two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more distant than ever, so unimaginable that it appears little more than an illusion sustained by lazy thinking, interest in the status quo or plain exhaustion.
From Tel Aviv to Ramallah in the West Bank, from the largely Arab city of Nazareth to Jerusalem, I found virtually nobody on either side prepared to offer anything but a negative assessment of the two-state idea. Diagnoses ranged from moribund to clinically dead. Next year it will be a half-century since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began. More than 370,000 settlers now live there, excluding in East Jerusalem. The incorporation of all the biblical Land of Israel has advanced too far, for too long, to be reversed now.
Greater Israel is what Israelis know; the smaller Israel west of the Green Line that emerged from the 1947-49 war of independence is a fading memory. The right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with its contempt for Palestinians and dissenting voices in general, prefers things that way, as the steady expansion of settlements demonstrates.
Cohen - and every liberal columnist in the world, plus the leaders of the EU and the US - are so sure that Israel's steady expansion of settlements is the major problem in the region that they should be able to answer a simple question:
How much new land has been taken from Palestinians since the Clinton parameters in Taba in 2000?
You can answer in dunams or acres.
Everyone is so sure that Israel is expanding the settlements beyond the point of no return, but nobody is putting out any numbers in terms of land that has been given to Jewish Israelis.
Because it is minuscule.
The amount of land taken up by the settlements was less than 2% in 1993 and it remains less than 2% today, as of the latest information I can find. There are essentially no new facts on the ground that make a two-state solution any more difficult today than it was in 2000.
Now, I can tell you what has changed since the 2000 peace plan was rejected by Palestinians.
Palestinians started a terror war that killed thousands, using suicide bombing, shootings and other means. They raised a generation of children to hate Israel, teaching them that eventually and inevitably Israel will disappear. They encouraged knife attacks against Jewish grandmothers. Israel withdrew from Gaza and was rewarded with a terror statelet that shot thousands and thousands of rockets and mortars to civilian areas in Israel itself.
All of those facts tend to make Israelis a little less enthusiastic about peace. But that doesn't mean they don't desperately want it.
If the Palestinians would accept the Clinton plan today, along with true peace between the two states, the supposedly right-wing Israeli public would overwhelmingly support it.
Roger Cohen knows this. But he prefers to blame Israel for the bullheadedness of the Palestinian leadership.
Why are these facts so hard to understand?
Because of "good Jews" like Roger Cohen and Peace Now and J-Street and Tom Friedman, who give cover for Palestinian crimes and intransigence by always primarily blaming Israel and Likud for the lack of peace.
Open your eyes, Roger.