Who is sabotaging peace talks? (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Zalman Shoval 04/22/12)
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I don´t know whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was surprised
when Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad failed to show
up for their scheduled meeting on Tuesday, but perpetual Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat certainly was. Surprised and embarrassed.
Those in the know noticed even before the meeting that Fayyad was
making every effort to avoid it, apparently because he didn´t want to
partake in the facade, which was doomed to fail.
The Palestinians (without Fayyad) came to the meeting with the usual
list of preconditions: a commitment in advance that the Green Line
would be recognized as the official border of a future Palestinian
state and an absolute halt to all settlement construction beyond that
line, including in Jerusalem. In other words, they seek to create
facts on the ground, without discussing basic issues like security,
or the rejection of the Palestinian “right of return” or the
recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
"Wait a second," someone will surely remark. "The Israelis have
preconditions too." But that isn´t true. As opposed to the other
side, Israel is saying, "Let´s agree on an agenda, and when we sit
down to negotiate, each side will raise its demands and then we will
either reach an agreement or we won´t." It is safe to assume that the
Palestinians know very well that it will never happen their way. Why,
then, do they keep trying?
One of the possible explanations is that they are trying to reclaim
the attention of Washington, where the Palestinian issue has
temporarily (until November?) been supplanted in the headlines.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians are laying the foundations for another
U.N. membership bid – this time not in the Security Council but in
the General Assembly, where they enjoy a clear majority. The
Palestinians seek U.N. membership for a non-state, which would grant
them certain international advantages on the way to full membership
as a state.
At the same time they are issuing warnings: If Israel doesn´t hurry
up and implement the two-state solution, we will push for a bi-
national state (to which all Palestinian refugees will be permitted
to return), which will over time become home to an Arab majority. In
other words – the end of the Zionist state.
Even those who promote the so-called one-state solution in political
forums or in academic settings (like the recent Harvard "One-State
Solution" conference) understand that it is not really a peace
agreement, but rather an elimination of the Jewish state. Every
intelligent being knows that, in practical terms, the Palestinian
threat is an empty one. Israel has no intention of legally or
effectively absorbing most of the Arab inhabitants of the territories
or of abandoning its Zionist and democratic principles. Yet
this "threat" continues to be heard.
One issue that cannot be dismissed is the position of the U.S.
administration. Right now the administration is not pushing for
progress in talks (the only thing worrying Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas at the moment is that his threats to step
down or dissolve the Palestinian Authority are no longer making an
impression on anyone, including U.S. President Barack Obama).
Jackson Diehl, the deputy editorial page editor of the Washington
Post, harshly criticized Obama´s foreign policy in his editorial this
week, arguing that on almost every issue, Obama´s aim is to "stop
history until November."
So, to conclude, the Palestinian moves are transparent, to everyone
including Jerusalem decision-makers. But Israel keeps playing the
game (it will submit its own list of demands to the Palestinians in
two weeks´ time), just to make it clear for everyone who worked to
advance peace, and who worked to sabotage it.
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