The international community now sees and understands that the Palestinian Authority does not want peace, World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The philanthropist and former American ambassador was responding to the cessation of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority following the PA’s announcement of a reconciliation deal with Hamas earlier this week.
“This is one of the times when people realize what’s really happening and there is no question about it,” Lauder said. “How can Israel negotiate with an organization that wants its destruction?” Lauder, who is well connected with many world leaders, said the overwhelming sentiment among his contacts was support for Israel.
“Last night I was calling around from country to country, group to group, also within the US, to see what’s happening. There was no one I came across that said, ‘You know, it’s a good thing.’ Even the most left[- wing] groups.”
“Many times people have been critical of Israel and the peace process. What I heard last night was very different. I think the most important aspect is people get it, and the American government gets it, which is important. They realize that Abbas could not have done more to destroy the peace process.”
Responding to supporters of the unity deal between the two primary Palestinian factions, Lauder said there does not seem to be a positive way to view the agreement, which he sees as PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s way of closing out negotiations.
It is “interesting that they picked a time right before the prisoner release. Why? Because I believe that they wanted to use this as blaming Israel for not releasing the prisoners. It’s the blame game.”
Everybody, he asserted, “believes that the Israeli people want peace and that the Palestinian people want peace, and more and more they realize what the real problem is. I don’t think President Abbas could have made a stronger signal that he didn’t want peace.”
Asked if he believes Abbas’s decision and Israel’s reaction signaled the end of the peace process, Lauder replied he didn’t believe “you can put it all together again, unless President Abbas calls for new elections,” which would provide the PA with new leadership.
“I believe that if he really wanted peace, he knows he has a partner in Israel, and he’s trying to do everything he can to stop the process without appearing to want to stop the process.”
Addressing the European Union, which has been consistently supportive of such a reconciliation accord, Lauder said he believes the realization of the agreement “got their attention,” but the EU stance will not “change overnight.”
An EU spokesman Thursday issued a statement calling the reconciliation agreement an “important element” in “reaching a two-state solution.”
Israel’s reaction should be firm, but the Netanyahu administration should also handle the issue of the end of the current round of negotiations “delicately,” Lauder added.
“It is also important how Israel handles it,” he said. Israel should “reiterate what Hamas stands for and then say something to the effect that Israel is very disappointed.”
“It shows very much, I think to everybody, that at the end of the day the Palestinians really didn’t want peace, and what they really want is the UN to give it to them. They don’t want to negotiate, and I think the key thing is the politicians get it.”
The full interview with Ronald Lauder will appear next week in The Jerusalem Post.