By Paul M
It’s becoming more clear that the USA’s generous support of Israel, and Europe’s kind words, come with strings attached. At least part of the payback is going to be some kind of new “peace initiative.” The Arab world, too, is pushing increasingly hard on this, though not the bit about support and kind words.
The talk will, in time, turn into pressure—on Abbas merely to come to the table and on Israel to give gifts. The time for Israel to engage in public diplomacy is now, not after the fighting when it has had its name dragged through the mud over and over again. By then it will just look like avoidance and delaying tactics. Personally, I’d like to see them say something like this:
“After we have dealt with the terrorist threat we will be happy to reopen peace negotiations, if the Palestinian Authority is ready. We will not discuss peace until Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all other terrorist groups on our borders are eradicated. Until then it is the responsibility of everyone who genuinely wants peace to help us finish the task. We will not agree to a ceasefire before that work is completed.”
There are several other steps without which no peace negotiations are conceivable :
- When we have removed the terrorist threat we will turn civil administration over to the Palestinian Authority. As soon as conditions have improved sufficiently, free and fair elections supervised by the international community must be held in Gaza and the West Bank, to elect a single government that represents the Palestinians of today, not 2006, and which has the legitimacy to negotiate on their behalf.
- Our right to exist is not something we will bargain for. Accordingly, we will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that does not formally accept Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state—a status the United Nations and the countries of the world have acknowledged since 1948. It is no longer enough to claim that the Palestinian National Covenant is being rewritten: After 30 years it is time to see a final version that does not deny our legitimacy or our very existence as Jews. Talk of our “defiling” the Temple Mount with our “filthy feet” must end, as well as such things as trafficking in lies about the Khazars.
- The PLO’s 1974 “Phased Plan” dooms negotiations by effectively declaring in advance that all Palestinian agreements are made in bad faith. It must be formally repudiated.
- We must see signs that the Palestinian Authority is starting to prepare its people for peace. First and foremost this change must become visible in school curricula, but also in other PA output. Incitement against Jews must be replaced by education against antisemitism.
- We will not make unilateral concessions as a token of goodwill. Everything must be reciprocated. Do not say that all the other requirements listed here are unilateral Palestinian concessions. They are not. They are a basic, minimum starting point for negotiations that are to have any hope of success.
“When we can see that the Palestinians are ready to talk to us in good faith and with a single voice, we will be eager to discuss with them whatever serious peace plans they wish to advance.”
Whatever line Israel’s government wants to take, the important thing is that they start putting it out now, not when they’re being dragged kicking and screaming—particularly since it’s so obvious already that they will be.