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PM: Stop treating Palestinians like a ‘spoiled child’
By HERB KEINON
20/06/2011
Netanyahu tells Bulgarian FM that Europeans should be as frank with Palestinian Authority about refugees as they are with Israel about borders.
 
Some leaders in Europe treat the Palestinians “like a spoiled child” and instead need to “tell the Palestinians the truth,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday during a meeting with visiting Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov.

According to government sources, Netanyahu told Mladenov, considered one of the friendliest foreign ministers toward Israel in the EU, that there were individuals in the EU who never hesitated in telling Israel what they expected it to do, but were very reticent to take the same liberties with the Palestinians.

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He was specifically talking about a reluctance by some in the EU to call explicitly for the Palestinians to give up on a “right of refugee return” and to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, even though these Europeans had no qualms about calling clearly for Israel to agree to a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines and to redivide Jerusalem.

By not speaking with the same determination or frankness with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said, these leaders were “doing a disservice to those individual Palestinian leaders who are ready for compromise and deserve their support.”

The government sources named neither the Europeans nor the Palestinian leaders to whom Netanyahu was referring.

Israeli officials have long complained that while the Europeans are very specific when it comes to the solutions they envision regarding future borders or Jerusalem, when it came to an issue like refugees they often suffice with saying that a “just solution must be found.”

Why, one official asked, do they not use that same formula when addressing all issues, saying that a “just solution” needs to be found to the border question, rather than plainly referring to the 1967 lines as the resolution of that issue/ Netanyahu, who is scheduled to travel to Bulgaria and Romania in early July, reiterated Israel’s opposition to the Palestinians’ UN gambit, saying UN recognition would “put into UN cement” the maximalist Palestinian positions and prevent flexibility later.

To advance peace, Netanyahu said, it was necessary to oppose the PA’s move to the UN.

Bulgaria, along with countries like Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic, are considered among Israel’s closest supporters in the EU. When they were part of the Warsaw Pact, however, they were among the nearly 100 countries that recognized a Palestinian state in the late 1980s.

Regardless, Israel is lobbying these countries to vote against recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN in September, and – according to one government official – Mladenov gave the impression during his meetings in Jerusalem that Bulgaria would not support the Palestinian move.

Shortly after the meeting, Netanyahu met with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Quartet envoy Tony Blair. That meeting was held without aides or advisors, and nothing was revealed of its content except that Netanyahu asked the two to come out with a clear call to Hamas – just as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have done – to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit as a way of increasing pressure on the organization’s leadership.

One government source said the thrust of Netanyahu’s discussions in recent days with visiting officials was how to come up with a framework to restart talks that would then get the Palestinians to withdraw their UN resolution in September. Israel has made it clear, however, that it will not restart talks in any framework if Hamas is part of the Palestinian government.

The prime minister told Mladenov that the PA has been “grossly irresponsible” both in forging a Hamas-Fatah agreement and in planning to go to the UN.

Israeli officials, meanwhile, would not respond to an idea New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman floated in a column Sunday to re-visit the 1947 General Assembly partition resolution, this time in the Security Council.

According to Friedman, the resolution could be “very simple” and read as follows: “This body reaffirms that the area of historic Palestine should be divided into two homes for two peoples – a Palestinian Arab state and a Jewish state. The dividing line should be based on the 1967 borders – with mutually agreed border adjustments and security arrangements for both sides. This body recognizes the Palestinian state as a member of the General Assembly and urges both sides to enter into negotiations to resolve all the other outstanding issues.”

In such a resolution, Friedman argued, the Palestinians “would gain recognition of statehood and UN membership, within provisional boundaries, with Israel and America voting in favor. And the Israelis would get formal UN recognition as a Jewish state – with the Palestinians and Arabs voting in favor.

“Moreover, the Palestinians would get negotiations based on the 1967 borders and Israel would get a UN-US assurance that the final border would be shaped in negotiations between the parties, with land swaps, so theoretically the five percent of the West Bank where 80 percent of the settlers live could be traded for parts of pre-1967 Israel.”

Netanyahu has never accepted the principle – pretty much agreed upon by his predecessor, Ehud Olmert – that Jerusalem would have to compensate the Palestinians for any land Israel retains beyond the 1967 lines with territory from inside the Green Line.

Without going into details, one government official said there were plans currently being discussed that would present a “parallel resolution” to the UN that would include elements palatable to Israel, such as recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
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