Ashton and Erekat 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Thursday’s headlines trumpeting the end of the current Israeli-Palestinian talks
did not come as a great surprise to the fatigued observers of this perennial diplomatic dance.
A more accurate headline would have been that the
Palestinians abandoned the talks in Amman. Not that they showed any great
enthusiasm for them in the first place, but the indecent haste with which they
pronounced the talks a failure, jumped into their motorcade and headed off to
Ramallah, was not in the best of taste.
Moreover, the delegation’s
refusal to hear IDF Brig.-Gen. Assaf Orion’s presentation on security
arrangements was an exhibition of very poor will.
between the IDF and the Palestinian security forces is very good indeed. Much
credit goes to the PA leadership for this, as it does to the IDF, Americans,
Jordanians, the European Union and Tony Blair’s Quartet mission.
security arrangements are a pillar of any peace agreement between Israel and the
Palestinians – and an important issue for Israelis.
between IDF troop withdrawals and terror attacks has not been kind to Israel.
The withdrawal of Israeli forces from areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
after the 1993 Oslo Accords was followed by a series of terror atrocities on the
streets of Israeli cities that left many dozens of Israelis slain and hundreds
Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis only intensified following
Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton Parameters at the outbreak of the second
intifada in late 2000.
Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005 saw
hopes for peace and the building of a civil society in Gaza replaced by the
violent rule of Islamist Hamas, funded and supported by Iran.
the year before the Israeli pullback, 281 rockets were fired at
By 2006 – the year following the IDF’s withdrawal – that figure
more than tripled to 946 rocket attacks. By 2009, some 11,000 rockets and mortar
shells had terrorized ordinary people living in the communities of southern
This was hardly a great advert for the withdrawal of IDF troops
without ironclad security arrangements in place.
The recent Amman talks
were promoted as low-level but the refusal by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb
Erekat to discuss security arrangements brought them down to the lowest level
Despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s repeated calls for
direct negotiations, The Associated Press was quick to editorialize on Thursday
that he is “a reluctant latecomer to the idea of Palestinian statehood” and
quoted a Palestinian representative as saying that he is “seeking negotiations
as a diplomatic shield, with no real intention of reaching an
And so the blame game begins.
According to Palestinian
radio on Thursday, the PA’s Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki will be visiting the
five newest member states of the UN Security Council, “to update them on the
Amman talks [read, the failure of the talks is Israel’s fault] and to ask them
to take a more positive position on Palestinian membership in the
Erekat is poised to spell out the Palestinian position on the
talks at the Herzliya Conference next Wednesday.
This impatient rush to
begin Round Two of the Palestinian quest for a unilateral declaration of
independence at the United Nations is unseemly. It indicates that the
Palestinian leadership had little-to-no interest in the Amman talks succeeding
and is committed to embarrassing Israel, the United States and leading European
countries in the international arena.
PA President Abbas’s approval
ratings shot up in the West Bank and Gaza following his hard-line speech to the
UN General Assembly in September. Clearly, erasing any Jewish connection to the
Holy Land is good politics. And with the PA in financial crisis, another good
speech might be just what is required.
As news emanates from the
Palestinian media of demonstrations, marches and strikes being planned and as
the highly sophisticated Palestinian PR machine prepares its narrative of
Israel’s failure to negotiate, it is never too late to remind the world that
there is no substitute for a genuine commitment to an negotiated
Israeli-Palestinian settlement.The writer is the executive director of
the Israel Office of The Israel Project.