Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who cares about "negotiations"?

by Ted Belman

Mitchell, Netanyahu fail to agree on settlement halt. But don’t stand up and cheer just yet. Mitchell is still hanging around.

Netanyahu told his party

“In any case, I will not agree to enter into talks whose results are defined and known in advance. That’s what negotiations are for and we are willing to begin right away.”

In discussing the talks with the United States on freezing construction in the settlements, Netanyahu stressed that the agreement is only about “cutting down the construction” and said that it was still uncertain how long the restrictions would apply.

Netanyahu said that the agreement includes the continued construction of 2,500 housing units on which work has already begun, and 450 new housing units in the large settlement blocs. Netanyahu also said that public structures will be allowed, including schools, synagogues and more.

The truth of the matter is that negotiations will not end in any agreement or even a partial agreement. Surely the Israeli government knows this. Surely the US knows this too. Either they want negotiations for the sake of appearances or they must have a plan as to how they are going to force Israel to give the Arabs most of what they want. If it is the latter, as I suspect, then Netanyahu’s remark highlighted above is all the more telling. But why should he agree to any kind of freeze if he believes the negotiations will go nowhere?

Another thing that bothers me about this is the fact that we are being asked to commit to the US. What do we hope to get from the US for our commitment. If the settlement freeze is the big issue to the “Palestinians” then why aren’t we sitting with them and asking them what they are prepared to give in exchange.

The only thing that the freeze is intended to do is get the negotiations started. But why is Israel interested in negotiations that go nowhere or worse still that will involve increased pressure on Israel. Israel should prefer no negotiations. Then there wouldn’t be a freeze and Israel could unilaterally impose a deal on the Arabs, step by step.

It is clear that the Arabs don’t want negotiations. Which is another way of saying they don’t want a state, at least one that requires compromises to achieve or more importantly, one that prevents them from pursuing their dream of destroying Israel. The fact that they are not begging us for negotiations is all you need to know about how good the present situation is for them, save for those pesky settlements.

Abbas, as you know, keeps demanding a complete freeze before negotiations can commence.  Fatah to Haaretz: No settlement freeze, no talks

Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the Fatah Executive Committee, told Haaretz that the Palestinian demand for a complete building freeze in settlements remains.

Without such a freeze, he said, there is no possibility for a political process. “Why should we start a process we know won’t be of any use?, he asked.

However, Abed Rabbo also noted the PA has yet to hear a detailed American proposal, and that Abbas was undecided about meeting Netanyahu.

“The decision will be made after Abu Mazen meets with Mitchell and hears what he has to say,” Abed Rabbo said.

He told reporters that if a meeting does take place, its primary objective will be determining Netanyahu’s stands on political issues.

[..] However, since the American administration clearly signaled its interest in a trilateral summit, Abbas risks being presented as a refusing a peace offer, while allowing Israel to claim it has no partner for a peace process.

For all these reasons, Abbas and the Palestinian leadership are keenly expecting an American offer that would allow them to present a Palestinian achievement to counterbalance Israel’s construction in the territories.

In the present situation, the economy in Judea and Samaria is growing rapidly, the West is underwriting the PA’s deficit and their militarization, diplomats are beating a path to their door, they have the protection of the IDF and they don’t have to make compromises that could get them killed. What more could they want? A statelet or autonomous area as proposed by Netanyahu? Forget about it.

We must conclude that the US is the only one pushing for negotiations. If so they miscalculated.

According to Mort Zukerman, Obama is Fumbling a Chance for Middle East Peace

Alas, the American pressure campaign following Obama’s ascent has had one clear outcome, and not one we had hoped for: It has made a peace deal much less likely. Obama has not exerted pressure equally. He ignores what Israel has done in recent years to advance the cause of peace and what the Arabs have failed to do. The onus has been on Israel and Israel alone. This has allowed the Arabs yet again to abdicate responsibility. It has reinforced the long-standing Arab belief that the United States can “deliver Israel” if only it has the will to do so, thereby reducing Arab incentives to make concessions in direct negotiations with Israel. The moderate Arab states, whose principal concern is not Israel but an expansionist Iran seeking domination in the Middle East, have been unwilling to raise a finger to advance the process—not Egypt, not Jordan, not Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore Bret Stephens argues Obama Is Pushing Israel Toward War . Because Obama is demonstrating a lack of will, Israel must prepare for an attack all the more.

I expect that a tripartate meeting will not take place until after the holidays.


Ted Belman
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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