by David Lev
“The more people who understand what is going on, the better our chance of beating this plot.”
Behind this endless game lies an important consideration: What happens the day after the talks fail? What is the alternative plan? Unlike Israel, Elitzur says, the PA has such a plan: To back Israel into a corner and get Netanyahu to agree to borders of a Palestinian state.
“There’s a method to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’ ongoing refusal to negotiate seriously with Israel”, journalist Uri Elitzur told Israelnationalnews in an interview – “and unfortunately, his plan has a relatively good chance of succeeding”.
Elitzur laid out the plot in the weekend edition of Hebrew newspaper Mekor Rishon, of which he is one of the editors, last Friday. “The PA’s insistence that it will walk out of the talks if Israel ends the building freeze in Judea and Samaria” he says, “is a political gambit for something Abbas and company are far more interested in: An Israeli agreement on the borders of a Palestinian state before resolving other sensitive issues, such as security, Jerusalem, and PA demands that descendants of Arabs who abandoned Israel in 1948 be allowed to return to their former homes”.
“The strategy is apparent to anyone who bothers to look”, Elitzur says. “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu knows that the talks are a game, Abbas knows the talks are a game, and both are playing well.” The game, in this case, is to pass the blame for failure of the talks to the other party. U.S. President Barack Obama knows it’s a game, too, Elitzur says – and he also knows how far he can push Israel. “Obama knows that an American president is not a Caesar who can do whatever he wants, and there is a limit to the pressure the White House can impose on Israel.” Given that both Israel and the PA have so many red lines that they dare not cross, the talks were doomed to fail, even before they started, Elitzur says.
So why bother? “Behind this endless game lies an important consideration: What happens the day after the talks fail? What is the alternative plan?” Unlike Israel, Elitzur says, the PA has such a plan: To back Israel into a corner and get Netanyahu to agree to a “shelf agreement” – meaning that most of the impassable issues would be put “on the shelf” for the time being, while the one issue that the PA really wants to see resolved – the borders of the Palestinian state – are decided right now. Tsipi Livni actually agreed to this when she was Foreign Minister, Elitzur says.
If the borders between Israel and Palestine are delineated, Elitzur says, the PA can declare an official Palestinian state – one that has a reasonable chance of being accepted by the rest of the world. Contrary to popular thinking, the PA would not be able to get away with declaring a state unilaterally – not after they signed agreement after agreement that specifies negotiations as the only legitimate path to a PA state.
But if Israel – and the U.S. – agree to delineate the borders, Elitzur says that the PA could probably get a great deal of international support and recognition for the PA state; they might even successfully join the UN. Once that happens, it would be a simple matter to mount a truly effective campaign against Jews residing in “Palestine” – and little by little, Israel would withdraw from all the areas it agreed would be part of a de jure Palestinian state, without achieving any of its security goals – and we would be stuck with a de facto terror state that could pose a mortal threat.
Would the U.S. recognize such a state? “Maybe not,” Elitzur told Israelnationalnews. “But I believe Obama would. And if he does well in the November elections, he could make life unpleasant for Israel if we don’t go along with the plan, by doing things like abstaining from Security Council votes against us, and so on.”
In fact, in recent statements, Obama hinted at just such plan, saying in a press conference last week that “ultimately, the way to solve these problems is for the two sides to agree what’s going to be Israel, what’s going to be the state of Palestine. And if you can get that agreement, then you can start constructing anything that the people of Israel see fit in undisputed areas.”
The PA plan has the potential to change the public discussion on what would constitute a resolution of the Mideast conflict. “Right now, the world hears us talk about a comprehensive agreement, security, two states for two peoples, and so on,” Elitzur says. “But if Abbas has his way, the settlements will be the only issue on the table – because we will have agreed that they are the only issue on the table.” The fact that Netanyahu is likely to offer less of Judea and Samaria for a Palestinian state than either Livni or Olmert were – about 90% (although, says Elitzur, the rest will be made up with territory currently part of the State of Israel), is a sacrifice Abbas is willing to make in order to be able to declare an independent Palestine without having to hew to any of Israel’s conditions.So will he get away with it? “So far, Netanyahu seems to be avoiding this trap, but he is not immune to pressure.” It would make things much easier for Obama, too; instead of pressuring Israel to compromise on dozens of issues, he would have only one issue to persuade – or pressure – Netanyahu to accept. Is there anything the average Israeli can do about it? “Say tehillim,” Elitzur says. “And tell your friends to read the story that Arutz 7 is doing about it.
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