This is a cross post by Marc Goldberg from The Times of Israel
I greeted with joy and optimism the news that our newest of our three serving Deputy Prime Ministers is going to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Then I thought again and realised that after months of practically zero communication between the Israeli government and the PA this really doesn’t mark a substantial step back on the road to peace making between us at all.
It goes without saying that we’ve all been here before. Although this time I am particularly impressed with Mofaz since it is he who is going to Ramallah, thereby showing just how much he wants the dialogue to reopen between us, the noises emanating from the PA are already discouraging with Abbas himself announcing the process clinically dead only a few days ago. Of course if that is the case it is he who killed it. .
It is clear that no matter how well intentioned Mofaz is in dealing with Abbas it just isn’t going to be enough, we’ve been here many times before.
The negotiations have already finished, we know what we can give and have reached our limit of what we can offer without destroying our own country. So called talks between Israelis and Palestinians were once an incredible spectacle to behold, now they are just a spectacle.
Mofaz and Abbas will have a little chat, both of them will probably walk out saying something positive about each other and the chances for peace while noting that this is a positive first step on the road back to negotiations. These chances will amount to nothing since Israeli maximum has not met Palestinian minimum and we have nowhere else to go.
That doesn’t mean that it is time to give up! If Abbas won’t make the peace then there are others out there who will.
A recent poll conducted by Haaretz has found that (unsurprisingly)Marwan Barghouti is by far the most popular Palestinian leader around today both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Barghouti is currently in prison for the murder 5 people during the Al Aqsa Intifada. Arguably the most senior commander of Palestinian dissidents that we currently hold, he has both street cred as well as broad based appeal.
It should be stressed that though he was convicted for ‘only’ 5 murders this man was complicit in a devastating range of attacks against us. He has since campaigned for peace in exchange for a Palestinian State from his prison cell, stating time and again his readiness to see this happen. The difference between him and others is that he has the power to make it so. His power also stretches beyond party lines to Hamas.
The harsh fact of the matter is that you don’t make peace with your friends but with your enemies. We have the choice as to whether to look backwards or forwards. Looking back we can see that this man is a murderer, looking forward it becomes clear that he is currently the only man alive who has both the power and the inclination to make the peace between our two peoples.
We have the choice between vengeance and reconciliation. The former will ensure that we will be burying more and more of our dead, the latter offers the promise of a better life for all of us.
Throwing Barghouti back into the mix would create an earthquake in Palestinian politics. His release would serve, at minimum, to light a fire under Abbas and force his hand with regards to negotiating with Israel and at most would cost him the presidency of the PA leading the way for Barghouti to make the peace.
The real question is can we be big enough to forgive the actions of the past in order to build a better future for ourselves and our people?