The “peace process” is dead, but Kerry refuses to sign the death certificate. Pathetically, he hovers over the diplomatic corpse as if he can invigorate it with new life. He’s pushed on before when the situation seemed grim from his perspective. But this time I believe the situation is irrevocable.
At the request of US “peace” envoy Martin Indyk, Wednesday night our chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, accompanied by Netanyahu’s envoy, lawyer Yitzhak Molcho, met with the PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was accompanied by the head of Palestinian Intelligence Majid Faraj.
Livni? She’s pro-peace and conciliatory, and has consistently made statements about trying hard for “peace” that are infuriating. But in this instance, she was pushed beyond patience. When Erekat refused to consider withdrawing the applications to international agencies, she said this was an abrogation of understandings and announced the final release of 26 prisoners cancelled. Thank Heaven!
This was the way Ma’an, an independent Palestinian news agency, described the meeting:
”The [Palestinian Arab] sources described the meeting as a ‘fierce political battle’, with Martin Indyk struggling to control heated exchanges between both sides.
“Erekat reportedly told the Israeli side that ‘we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a
Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel.’
“Israeli negotiators responded by threatening to put ‘endless’ sanctions on the Palestinians, the sources said.
“During the heated exchanges, US special envoy Martin Indyk reiterated his support for Israel’s security.
“Majid Faraj responded by stressing that the Palestinians were there for ‘political, not security’ talks and to negotiate about Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent Palestinian state. (emphasis added)
“Erekat responded to Israeli threats of sanctions by saying the PLO would go after Israeli officials.”
I want to look for a moment at the comment by Faraj about being there for political and not security talks. Exactly. And this was Netanyahu’s error from the get-go. He relied on security issues (which I do not denigrate and which are real enough) to the exclusion of political issues, because he considered it a less – what? – controversial and combative way to proceed. No forthright challenging PA claims about land, just a counterclaim that, look, we need to hold on to some of that land to be safe.
Now it’s time for Israel to stand up unhesitatingly with the legal claims regarding our rights.
A brief explanation here. Legally, with regard to certain international actions, a state (and the PLO is NOT a state but is trying to pretend it is) must be a signatory to a treaty or convention before it can be involved in making certain charges or claims. This is part of what the PLO imagines it is about, as it makes these various applications: now it can come after Israel with international backing.
But it is most definitely not that simple. For once the PLO has signed on, it is committed to the strictures, requirements, etc. of that treaty or convention: that is, legally, it has now pledged to behave in a certain fashion and can be held responsible if it does not. With all of the talk about “getting” Israel, they are playing with a double-edged sword. Since the PLO has vast liability in several quarters, they may come out the worse for it.
Most significant in this regard is the International Criminal Court in the Hague, to which the PLO has not yet made application – and which, in spite of its bravado, it may have reservations about applying to. You will keep reading that the Palestinian Arabs are going to have Israeli leaders charged as “war criminals.” This would be via that court. But imagine how Abbas and his cohorts could be charged with war crimes.
This is what Minister Naftali Bennett, head of Bayit Hayehudi, had in mind when he spoke to a faction gathering last night (emphasis added):
Observing that Abbas has developed a way of getting what he wants, Bennett pointed out that Abbas says, “If you don’t give me things, I will stop talking to you; I will go to the UN.”
Retorted Bennett: “From here we say: go to the UN – I will buy you a plane ticket. But what will make things difficult for you at the UN is a personal lawsuit for war crimes.” (Note, this is a rhetorical statement for that prosecution would not be at the UN, but the International Criminal Court.)
Explained Bennett: “[Abbas] finances terrorist activity from Gaza every month, with money from PA taxes. He finances pensions for Palestinian murderers. He talks about going to the Hague [court]. A man who has terrorist butter on his head should not go out in 100-degree weather, because it will explode in his face.
“Right now we are working to create a package and a coalition of actions and organizations, so that if [Abbas’s UN] bid is not cancelled, on top of all of the sanctions, in the international field, too, the entire PA leadership will be in Israel’s international, legal and diplomatic crosshairs.”
Precisely how our government must respond – not with exaggerated fear, and not with conciliation.
After Abbas was informed of Livni’s demand regarding rescinding the applications to international organizations, he replied that he would “rather be a martyr” – i.e., die fighting for the “cause.”
He then announced the new PLO terms for coming back to the table, which include:
 Recognition of the 1967 line as the border of the Palestinian state, and of eastern Jerusalem as its capital (with Netanyahu signing a paper in this regard)
 Release of 1,200 prisoners, including three senior terrorists: Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Sa’adat and Fuad Shobaki
 Complete cessation of all building in Judea and Samaria, as well as a halt to all Israeli operations in PA controlled areas (note: these are in pursuit of terrorists)
 Sharing control of Area C (the Israeli area of Judea and Samaria) with the PA
 “Reunion” permits for 15,000 families to come into Israel
 Lifting the blockade of Gaza
There’s more, but this is sufficient. As I said, negotiations are finished.
I am a bit reluctant to share the commentary on this situation by Ron Ben-Yisai, because I believe he comes to absolutely the wrong conclusions (about how we have to be nice and bring the PA back to the table). But he has a couple of observations about Palestinian Arab intransigent behavior now that are instructive, and so I will (emphasis added):
One reason for their toughened stance, he says, has to do with internal PA politics.: “The popularity of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party has been on the wane recently, not only in comparison to arch-rivals Hamas, but also as Fatah’s former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan and his supporters attempt to gnaw away at Abbas’ base, presenting Dahlan as a viable alternative for the Palestinian leadership. The crisis in talks with Israel was a chance for Abbas and Fatah to display some ideological resolve, flex their muscles, and regain popularity almost overnight.”
What we need to be reminded of here is that intransigence and toughness are what win the day with the Palestinian Arab street, not conciliatory gestures that will bring peace. Makes notions of “peace” with the “Palestinian people” look rather naïve and foolish.
“But the third reason for Abbas and the Palestinian leadership’s newfound inflexibility is also the most important, and that is power, or, more accurately, being drunk with power. Ramallah saw how shaken Benjamin Netanyahu and the US administration were after Abbas signed more than a dozen international conventions. The Palestinians came to some conclusions, and 25 hours later submitted a long list of radical demands. It is also safe to assume that the fact that Israel had dispatched its chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, to talk to her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat also contributed to this radicalization.”
This is precisely what I have been saying: being afraid of what the PA will do is counterproductive. It is imperative to show strength and exhibit confidence in Israel’s rights. We cannot allow them to have the impression that they are in charge. We must grab the initiative. This is a psychological war and a war of perceptions, as much as anything.
Maj. Nadav Abargil, Nitzan Combat Intelligence Collection Battalion, gave a rare interview to the JPost yesterday. Its timing is not a coincidence: this is a warning to the PA especially in light of demands that the IDF no longer operate in PA controlled areas:
“Should peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail and result in an elevated level of violence, the battalion’s members and their ghost-like presence throughout the West Bank will direct the army to the location of terrorist suspects. That is what the battalion, under the IDF Central Command, has been doing until now, and its members say they are ready to deal with any future threats.” (Emphasis added)
The Shin Bet reports that terror attacks and resultant fatalities have enormously increased in the past year. My observations is that this is what happens when there are “peace negotiations” – it motivates Palestinian Arabs negatively as their sense of empowerment increases. It is important to understand the Arab mindset, which sees conciliation as weakness. They are into power. (This is something the Western mind has trouble with.) Another reason to say good riddance to the “peace process.”
“In 2013, there were some 1,271 attacks in Judea and Samaria, as opposed to 578 in 2012, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said. Of these attacks, 1,042 took place in Judea…The Shin Bet said that 78 percent of the injuries in 2013 were caused in rock-throwing or firebombing incidents.”
There are reports now about concern in Washington that the secretary of state is wasting too much time on this issue, and thus neglecting other matters. There is a push for him to admit failure and pull back.
On this note, I say SHABBAT SHALOM.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.