PRIME MINISTER Binyamin Netanyahu 390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinian and Arab media reports that the Jordanian-sponsored
Israeli-Palestinian talks have failed. Palestinian politicians and factions are
recommending to the PLO leadership to put an end to what they call a farce.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will ask the Arab League to
support the Palestinian decision to suspend the talks until Israel accepts a
full settlement building freeze and agrees that negotiations on the borders must
be based on the June 4, 1967, lines.
The Palestinian leadership has
claimed that although Israel finally did present its starting point for
negotiations on a future border, the principles presented by attorney Yitzhak
Molcho, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s special envoy, were a nonstarter
from their perspective. Not only did the Molcho principles not come close to the
Palestinian position on borders, the Israelis once again refused to put anything
The Palestinians have repeatedly presented their positions
for negotiations in writing. US President Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy at
the beginning of his administration, George Mitchell, had received a detailed
paper of some 14 pages from the Palestinians on their positions on all permanent
status issues. Israel, to this day, has not presented its positions in
The Palestinians understood this problem very well even during
the time of the Olmert-Abbas talks, when then-prime minister Ehud Olmert refused
to put his far-reaching offers in writing and even refused to allow Abbas to
take the map of Olmert’s proposed borders with him back to Ramallah. When Abbas
sat with his team of advisors to brief them on Olmert’s proposal, he took a
piece of paper from his desk and drew the map that Olmert had
proposed.This certainly does not demonstrate a serious intention to
negotiate. How can you claim to be serious about negotiating the end of such a
conflict when nothing is in writing?
So the Palestinians are fed up with what
they perceive to be stalling tactics while Israel continues to unilaterally
determine the borders by expanding settlement building throughout the West Bank.
At the time of the Madrid Conference 20 years ago, thenprime minister Yitzhak
Shamir justified his decision to participate in the process by saying that we
would negotiate with the Palestinians for 20 years and move half a million
Israelis into Judea and Samaria. That was perhaps the most honest thing
an Israeli prime minister has ever said about negotiations with the
Palestinians, and Shamir’s vision or plan has been realized.
understood that by doing so Israel would prevent the creation of a Palestinian
state. Apparently, Netanyahu has improved the “Shamir plan,” or has adjusted it
for phase two after having completed Shamir’s vision.
addition to the plan is to speak openly about creating a Palestinian state next
to Israel, without ever really meaning it, while at the same time adding tens of
thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of more settlers to the West Bank
landscape. The latest addition has been to legalize the unauthorized
outposts which Israel was obliged to remove under the road map. But why remove,
when we can build more? Netanyahu has already demonstrated that Israel’s ability
to muster international support and pressure against the Palestinians is far
greater than the Palestinian ability to do the same against Israel.
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the name of the game is how to make the world believe that it is the
Palestinians who don’t want to negotiate? It’s not so difficult. The
Palestinians are playing along so nicely with the Israeli plan. Netanyahu
says every day “I want to negotiate with Abbas; it is he who refuses to meet me.
I am even ready to travel to Ramallah to meet him and to negotiate with
Today everyone knows the Palestinians are saying no to
negotiations. I hear it every day from ministers in the government, from the
Prime Minister’s Office and now even from some diplomats representing Israel’s
best friends around the world.
Netanyahu says “all of the issues are on
I had a meeting last week with a Palestinian
minister. He told me what was on the table “was a loaf of bread – and as
we speak the Israelis are eating the bread slice-by-slice, but saying the loaf
belongs to both of us, let’s talk about how to slice it.”
I think that
the Palestinians are making a mistake by refusing to sit at the table, even with
the very slim chance of reaching an agreement. But as an Israeli, I think that
Netanyahu is making an even bigger mistake by refusing to be serious in the
negotiations. We are not doing a favor to the Palestinians by agreeing to a
two-state solution, we are serving our own interests for not ruling over another
people who refuse our rule.
The same Palestinian minister who I met and
who is a strong advocate of the two-state solution and a strong believer in
Abbas’s ability to reach an agreement with Israel that would put an end to the
conflict also said that soon, so little of the “loaf of bread” will be left that
we simply will not be able to negotiate about anything. He added “I am willing
to take Israeli citizenship and to fight for my equal rights along with my
Palestinian brothers and sisters who have been citizens since 1948.” That is
becoming the Palestinian position.
Next month there will be a conference
at Harvard on the one-state option. More than 300 people have already registered
for that meeting. If a similar event were to be organized on the two-state
solution, I doubt half that number would show up and that those who did show up
would have very much to say.
Personally I have tried over and over again
during the past months to impress upon Netanyahu to urgency of the need to
negotiate seriously with the Palestinians. I have received clear messages that
there is no intention during 2012 to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. I
am honestly coming to the conclusion that after 2012, the terms of reference for
any future agreements with the Palestinians will no longer be partition and two
states. It looks like the “one staters” on both sides are going to
succeed. I cannot understand how we can consider this a success or how
any Zionist can call this defeat of the Palestinian state a victory for our
side.The writer is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center
for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the host of
All for Peace Radio.
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