Imagine for a moment a man who picks someone's safe and loots a hoard of money. The victim, tracking the man down, demands the money back. But the fellow refuses to recognize the cash as someone else's property; it is "disputed." The wronged party finally brings in a mediator, but, adopting the man's logic about the money being "disputed" and not stolen, the mediator tells the victim to work out his disagreement directly with the man. And so the lucky man continues spending, the mediator continues mediating, and the victim remains a victim, poorer by the day.
I often think of this analogy when, sitting in my home up on Mount Gerizim above Nablus, I stare out a window at the rapidly expanding colony of Har Bracha.
Since 1967, the Palestinians have lost control of their land, hilltop by hilltop, field by field, and none of the mediators sent our way has managed to stop or even to slow the ever-quickening pace of dispossession. Often the mediator has provided diplomatic cover for this.