A senior military strategist and former US government adviser has launched a blistering attack on the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, deriding the process as a "charade".
Edward Luttwak, a senior associate at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington DC, said the "interference of frivolous people" would not bring about peace in the Middle East.
The process was, he said, "a perverse, deeply perverted mechanism that masquerades in humanitarian clothes".
His comments came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Israeli and Palestinian leaders for taking the talks seriously.
She said Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas were "getting down to business" and had been "grappling with the core issues" during talks in Sharm el-Sheikh this week.
They are prolonging the conflict by decades Edward Luttwak
But Mr Luttwak rubbished her comments. He said: "In human history so far there have been quite a few wars and the ones that ended in peace were the ones that were allowed to reach their natural conclusion and fight it out.
"Irresponsible outsiders - all these unemployed Swedish diplomats with nothing to do - interfere every time the conflict is under way. By doing so they prolong the conflict by decades and decades.
"All of this is being done under the pretence of humanitarian interest. There is an anomaly. One Palestinian gets the same attention as 10,000 Darfuris. It is frivolous behaviour."
Mr Luttwak, who has served as a consultant to the US State Department, National Security Council and all branches of the US armed forces, said Israeli and Palestinian leaders might experience small benefits, thanks to their participation in the talks.
"If I were a member of the Israeli government then I might very well participate in a peace process - Helsinki, Oslo, mediation missions - because each participation can bring some diplomatic advantage, gain some points, open access, maybe you get some trade deals out of it and that's worth something.
"That is all part of the Zionist project - one more person, one more building. You have to be pragmatic. But as an outside observer, as a strategist, I must say it is a charade."
He also criticised the influence of non-governmental organisations, claiming they extend conflicts rather than hasten their resolution. He said if NGOs "had had their way there would have been no end" to the Sri Lankan civil war.
Mr Luttwak will speak at an event held by the debating forum Intelligence Squared on Tuesday in central London. He will defend the motion "The Middle East peace process is a charade."