You might say his name is an oxymoron.  Putting someone named "shalom" in charge of peace negotiations who opposes the two-state solution and instead wants to expand settlement construction on the West Bank, doesn't make much sense.

If you had any lingering doubts about Benjamin Netanyahu's commitment to peace with the Palestinians, they should be eliminated by his decision to give the peace portfolio Silvan Shalom.

But even if Shalom underwent a conversion from hawk to dove, it wouldn't help.  That's because Netanyahu appointed his lawyer, Yitzhak Molcho, to babysit Shalom and block anything creative, as he did when then-Justice Minister Tzipi Livni had the "peace" portfolio.

The Prime Minister's office confirmed a report on Israel Radio and Haaretz that Netanyahu selected Shalom, who is also deputy prime minister and interior minister, to handle talks with the Palestinians — if there ever are any.  And then only under Molcho's watchful eye.

The big difference from the previous government is that Livni, now a leader of the opposition, genuinely supported the two-state approach, unlike Shalom.  There are no doves in the new Netanyahu coalition, which is dominated by settler, nationalist and religious parties.

The result is further reinforcement in the eyes of Palestinians, Americans and the international community that Netanyahu is not serious about peace no matter how many empty speeches he gives.  Even fewer will be inclined to believe – if they ever did — that he wasn't serious when just before the March election he vowed there would be no Palestinian state on his watch. 

This is one more move by Netanyahu that will strengthen the Palestinians and their supporters when they go to the United Nations Security Council later this year to advance recognition of Palestinian statehood and demand setting a deadline to end the occupation.