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July 12, 2010: Swallowing Hard

October 19, 2010

That swallowing is necessary before taking in information on all the things our prime minister is saying as he pursues peace — or the illusion thereof.  Pursues it with a vengeance.
 
I remain convinced that he is confident that Abbas will not come through — the evidence for this smacks us in the face! — and that there will be no meaningful negotiations, and that in the end there will be no Palestinian state.  As I have indicated previously, I believe that he sees this charade as the smartest way to make Israel come out on top at the end of the day.  He will be able to point to himself as the person ready to cooperate and to Abbas as the stumbling block.
 
At one point, in an interview, he even said that he is prepared to take “surprising” risks for peace, but that he needs a partner — he cannot go out on the trapeze alone.  His analogy is clear, as Abbas’s hands are not outstretched to us.
 
But yet, the things he says!  That he believes we can have peace in a year.  Really?  Under ideal conditions I don’t believe this would be the case.  Of course, he qualifies this by saying implementation would take a lot longer. 
 
And then there were these unsettling words:
 
“We have differences of views with the Palestinians. We want a united city [Jerusalem]. They have their own views. This is one of the issues that will have to be negotiated. But I think the main point is to get on with it, what are we wasting more time for?”
 
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I myself remain unconvinced that this is the best way to go.
 
If I correctly understand what he suggests regarding the time lag between laying out parameters and actually implementing everything, he’s going down a very dangerous road.  You don’t agree to anything (especially not on paper) unless you are certain that implementation is possible.  We must protect ourselves, making certain that when the whole thing does fall apart, we’re not committed to parameters that might come back to haunt us later.
 
Netanyahu is able to reject PA demands that we begin negotiations where Olmert left off because Olmert had put nothing in writing.  It must remain thus. 
 
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I deeply regret our failure, even now, to hold PA feet to the fire.  Netanyahu will advance to the table for face-to-face talks (if Abbas will show up) even though there has been no movement at all towards re-publishing PA textbooks without the message that jihad is good.  The time necessary for peace to be implemented is actually decades.  There can be no genuine peace until we have a generation of Palestinian Arabs that wasn’t raised on hatred for us.
 
This is the party that Netanyahu is prepared to negotiate with:
 
Last week, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a Hezbollah “spiritual leader,” died.  Fadlallah was on the US list of terrorists. He had issued a fatwa (religious ruling) sanctioning suicide attacks on US troops and on Israel. According to Reuters, a doctor treating Fadlallah before his death reported that, while he was still conscious a nurse him asked if there was anything she could bring him.  His reply: “I ask for nothing except that the Zionist entity should pass from the world.”
 
Palestinian Media Watch reports — http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=2566 — that Abbas sent an emissary to the hospital to wish Fadlallah a speedy recovery, and then sent condolences to the family after his death.  Additionally, Fatah has set up a mourning tent for Fadlallah in Jenin.

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Meanwhile, as I indicated above, Abbas is still balking.  Two days ago, he said:
 
“We have presented our vision and thoughts and said that if progress is made, we will move to direct talks, but that if no progress is made, it [direct talks] will be futile.
 
“If they say, ‘Come and let’s start negotiations from zero,’that is futile and pointless.”
 
Even statements from Obama regarding the need to move to direct talks are not having an effect, at least not yet.
 
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But what are we doing?  In a “been-there, done-that” action, following Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama, we are talking about some “good will gestures.”  When you read about this, you made need to do more than swallow hard.  You might be inclined to bang your head against the wall.
 
Why are we doing this?  Because Obama wants us to, clearly.  But this is after statements had come from our side (pre-Obama meeting, admittedly) declaring that we have made enough concessions and it was the PA’s turn.  How foolish this makes us.
 
There is the usual litany of possibilities — varying slightly with the source — regarding taking down of checkpoints, increasing security cooperation, release of some prisoners, etc.  Ostensibly what will these get us? Why, they’ll provide incentives for Abbas to come to the table.
 
Forgive me, but this is very very stupid.  If Abbas genuinely wanted a Palestinian state he’d be rushing to the table to firm up details.  (And we must thank Heaven that he’s not doing this!)   
 
As it is, Abbas has some very big problems.  If he comes to the table he is going to be expected to make some accommodations towards a settlement, and he has neither the inclination nor the latitude to make them.  The political climate in the Palestinian Arab areas of Judea and Samaria won’t allow it, and he has Hamas breathing down his neck as well.  Any concessions and he’ll be labeled a traitor.  Why does he publicly salute a terrorist such as Fadlallah? Because the street expects this.
 
It’s terribly foolish to imagine that the concessions we would make will convince the street to embrace negotiations.  Because we release some prisoners, or take down some checkpoints is no guarantee that the “refugees” will be able to “return,” or that the PA will get all of eastern Jerusalem.  And these are non-negotiable items for them.
 
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We’re are also seeing here in Israel a great deal of press regarding the changes in Obama.  As I believe the changes are tactical and do not represent a change of heart, I do not intend to belabor this matter unduly.
 
You might find this piece by Yisrael Harel, “Obama sobers up,” interesting:
 
http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=48712
 
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A great deal more to follow soon…
 
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