UPDATE 5:30 pm Monday: An angry confrontation took place this afternoon at Tel Aviv University between 400 Israeli leftists seeking to commemorate the so-called Palestinian ‘Nakba’ and 200 protestors waving Israeli flags, singing Israeli songs, and carrying signs that read “I’m proud to be Israeli!”
As you may know dear reader, PM Netanyahu’s latest attempt to restart peace negotiations, in the form of a letter to PLO President Mahmoud Abbas outlining Israel’s positions on borders and security, was taken to Ramallah on Saturday evening.
As soon as it arrived, it was rejected by the Palestinians.
The official word from Ramallah, delivered by Hanan Ashrawi yesterday, was: “The content of the letter did not represent grounds for returning to negotiations.” Palestinian Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo chimed in that Netanyahu’s missive “did not include clear answers about the central issues which are undermining the resumption of the peace process.”
When pressed for specifics, Rabbo cited Israel’s continuing construction in the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem–and Israel’s decision to not use the 1949 Armistice lines as the basis of a Palestinian state’s borders.
The amusing aspect about this latest round of “diplomacy” was that the Palestinians actually rejected the new proposal even before it arrived.
On Saturday morning, PLO executive committee member Wasil Abu Yousef, one of the negotiators who was involved in the talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Amman earlier this year, already “knew” what the letter would say:
“The letter will reflect the issues that were expressed in Amman. They will insist that the Israeli army remains at the borders; they will give us a country that is fragmented to pieces and connected through bridges and tunnels; Jerusalem will remain the Israel’s eternal capital of Israel and no solution will be proposed to the Palestinian refugees’ problem.”
So, to recapitulate, what is it that is now stopping the Palestinians from returning to the negotiating table?
1. They want the 1949 Armistice lines between Israel and Jordan (the ones that were in place 4 days before June 6, 1967) to be the basis of the borders of a new Palestinian state.
2. They want all construction of homes, schools, and hospitals to stop in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and in the predominantly Jewish neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem.
3. They want recognition that Jerusalem is not the eternal capital of the Israel.
4. They do not want the IDF to remained stationed on the borders with of a new Palestinian state.
5. They want a solution to the Palestinians’ so-called “refugee problem” (a solution that places all the refugees living in the Palestinians’ territory, and all the refugees around the world–in Israel).
6. They want a country in which all traces of Jewish communities (bridges and tunnels) have been eradicated.
And now they want all of this before they will sit down and negotiate–leaving your humble servant to wonder what would be left to negotiate if they ever did come back to the table. The evacuation of Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, and Beersheva? A time frame for the elimination of the Hebrew language from Israeli schools? The wiping of the word “Israel” off all maps?
The bottom line is that what the Palestinians have is a leadership determined not to negotiate with Israel, and a leadership that will not make any necessary concessions in order to make peace. In short, one is reminded of Abbas’ famous comment back in 2008 when he remarked that “life in the West Bank is not so bad”. Apparently the PLO is happy with the status quo, and maybe we should be too.