Sunday, July 21, 2013

Points to Consider About the Resumption of Negotiations

There have been many articles published about the announcement by Secretary of State John Kerry that - after five years of refusal - the Palestinian Authority has supposedly agreed to resume final status negotiations with Israel. The following points are worth considering, whether or not any negotiations ever resume.

  • The articles are ambiguous and conflicting regarding whether either side made any "concessions" to get the talks restarted. However, the facts that the Palestinian Arabs have been resisting talks (the major result of which, if successful, would be the establishment of another state for them and the content of which would primarily be the extent of Israeli concessions) and the conditions they have been demanding (more on those among the other points) are very telling about the differences between the parties (Israel, for whom peace is the major goal, and the Palestinian Arabs, for whom peace is a bitter pill).
  • Mahmoud Abbas is the leader not only of the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), but of the Fatah and PLO terror groups, both of which continue to call for the elimination of Israel in their charters. (Despite all the hoopla in 1996, the PLO charter was never actually changed.) His term as "president" of the Palestinian Authority actually ended in January, 2009, as he was elected to a four-year term on January 9, 2005.
  • Abbas has shown no interest in negotiating a peace agreement. He failed to even respond to an Israeli offer in 2008 to give him the equivalent of all the disputed territory, including parts of Jerusalem, and since then has refused to negotiate at all. (Technically, there was a three week period a few years ago during which he pretended to negotiate but announced even before he started that he'd end the negotiations after three weeks.)
  • Abbas has no ability to implement an agreement, even if he had the interest in negotiating one. He has no authority over Gaza and limited power even in the West Bank.
  • Regardless of whether Israel is making any concessions relating to the release of prisoners, the Arab demands for their release shows a lack of interest in peace. Those prisoners were not Boy Scouts; they are all terrorists, many of whom are mass murderers of innocent civilians. Someone who wanted to live in peace would also want them to remain where they belong - incarcerated; instead, the Palestinian Authority glorifies and honors those terrorists. (Much information about that glorification may be found on the Palestinian Media Watch website <>)
  • Every time Israel releases prisoners, some of them return to terrorism and try to murder innocent Israelis. The fact that Israel would even consider releasing prisoners just to get the Palestinian Arabs to the bargaining table is a testament to how much they desire peace; they have repeated released prisoners knowing it would lead to the death of Israelis in the hope - so far baseless - that it might bring the possibility of peace closer.
  • The seminal United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 calls for "secure and recognized boundaries," something the armistice lines in effect in 1967 could never be. The armistice agreements in 1949 also specifically stated those armistice lines were to have no political significance. Hence, any insistence on turning those armistice lines into borders constitutes and insistence on the violation of the armistice agreements and the Security Council resolution.
  • References to those armistice lines as "borders" is simply incorrect.
  • The areas that would have been allocated to an Arab state in Palestine had the Arabs joined the Zionists in accepting the United Nations Partition Plan did not include any parts of Jerusalem. During the period Jordan occupied portions of Jerusalem (1948-1967), Jews were barred from their holy sites in the Old City. Since then, there has been relatively free access for all, with the primary exception of Jews being barred from praying on the Temple Mount and largely prevented from even entering the Temple Mount since the late 1980s.
  • Some have suggested implementation in Jerusalem of the principle of giving the primarily Arab areas to the Arabs and the primarily Jewish areas to Israel. This would make Jerusalem ungovernable and a security nightmare. It would also probably be opposed by the Arabs living in Jerusalem, if they felt free to vote without fear of reprisal, since so many of them are afraid of coming under the fist of the Palestinian Authority. However, that principle would make sense in the disputed territories. Rather than "land swaps," which are in principle violations of the armistice agreements and the Security Council resolutions, if the Arabs really were interested in a peaceful resolution they would agree to the primarily Jewish areas of the disputed territories staying with Israel while they would get the primarily Arab areas and dividing up the remainder of the disputed territory in a manner that would make the border reasonable.
  • Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly insisted he would make no concessions on any of the core issues. ("I can't allow myself to make even one concession." September 7, 2010) He has also acknowledged that there would have been a peace agreement long ago had he been willing to be reasonable. ("If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago." October 15, 2010)

– Alan Stein

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