During Secretary of State Clinton’s “global townhall” meeting today where she answered questions from Internet-users and broadcasters around the world she commented on the recent Israeli elections and their possible effects on the Peace Process between Israel and the Palestinians. She stated that, “I actually think this election opens doors, not nails them shut.” The truth is the Israeli elections actually had absolutely no effect on the moribund peace process as the obstructing force is not with the Israeli government. She added a comment recognizing the apparent shift in the Israeli electorate adding that the election results displayed that they wish to pursue a “different path” towards peace. Speaking of the future and setting the mood for incoming Secretary of State John Kerry, who was approved by the United States Senate by a vote of 94 to 3, stating that Kerry, will forcefully seek a solution and added, “So I know President Obama and my successor soon-to-be secretary of state John Kerry will pursue this, will look for every possible opening.” Secretary Clinton also had some comments about Hamas stating, “Hamas is not interested in democracy, it is still largely a military resistance group.” She added that should Hamas turn from violence and adopt a political approach similar to the transition made by the PLO when becoming the Palestinian Authority then “there’s a place for them at the table.” Secretary Clinton the expressed, “It would be my great hope that they would do that.”
All of her statements are exactly what one would expect considering that the Administration of President Obama has taken the position that Israel must make all the sacrifices for peace and the Palestinians simply get to decide when Israel has given enough. Such an approach is a guarantee that there will never be a peace settlement as Israel is not the side refusing all negotiations. Perhaps this is what Senator Kerry was speaking about during his confirmation hearing in the Senate committee holding his hearing when he suggested that he may have new proposals to restart direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Secretary of State designate Kerry went further stating, “We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward.” He additionally predicted, “But I also believe that if we can’t be successful that the door, or window, or whatever you want to call it, to the possibility of a two-state solution could shut on everybody and that would be disastrous in my judgment.” Perhaps he is planning on actually addressing the actual roadblock that prevents going forward which is Mahmoud Abbas and his near endless list of preconditions which would require Israel to surrender on every single of the final status negotiation points and then even more. Mahmoud Abbas holds no illusions that there is any chance that the Israelis will ever accept his preconditions as preventing any negotiations are the sole purpose of his extravagant demands.
That is the problem that the United States, the United Nations, the European Union along with most of its individual countries, the Russians, and the entire Arab Muslim world in that they all place the entire expectations for peace squarely on the shoulders of the Israelis. While the Israelis are pressured by these forces, the Palestinians are given piles of cash every time they even emit the slightest squeal that they are short of funds. Despite an ever changing list of preconditions trotted out in random order and length by Abbas and other Palestinian leaders whenever a mention of negotiations are brought up, nobody ever thinks of insisting that he drop his ridiculous obstructions and just negotiate. There are a few of his demands which even if they were the sole demand, they would preclude any Israeli agreement. Examples of some are, the Palestinians must be allowed to retain their right to armed struggle against the Israelis until all of Palestine from the river to the sea has been liberated, contrary to the promises of United Nations Resolution 181 where Israel was not required to return to the 1949 Armistice Lines also called the Green Line or the pre 67 war lines but that Israel was to withdraw to strategically secure and defensible borders, Abbas demands Israel withdraw completely to the 1949 Armistice Lines, and there is the oldest demand for the Palestinian ‘Right of Return’ which would bring more than five-million Palestinian Arabs into Israel inside of the 1949 Armistice Lines and grant them immediate citizenship thus allowing them to vote Israel into yet another Arab state and deny it any Jewish recognitions or properties. Any sane and rational individual looking at these and the rest of the preconditions, or as Abbas sometimes refers to them whenever anybody, especially Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu calls for negotiations free of preconditions from either side and settling the differences through the peace process, the preconditions become obligations which Israel is required to meet under all understanding of the international community before the Palestinians can even be approached to meet with the Israelis. With such a barrage of negativity at the ready for every approach, no wonder everybody demands Israel bend and leave Abbas alone, he is too much of a pain in the neck.
All the statements by Secretary Clinton that the Israeli elections did not preclude the continuation of the peace process was accurate as the Israelis are willing and ready to hold peace talks immediately as Prime Minister Netanyahu has expressed repeatedly. What is unfortunate is that virtually nobody is willing to speak the truth that it is the Palestinians who are refusing to meet or address or even consider any offer to bring them to the table to talk. Even despite President Obama’s initial taking of the Palestinian side and demanding that the Israelis impose a building freeze in all of Judea and Samaria and Prime Minister Netanyahu imposing exactly that for ten months, that did not bring Abbas to the table and instead he listed numerous other preconditions as excuses not to talk. Well, Abbas did eventually come to the table and talk when his insistence that the meeting be with President Obama and a horde of photographers and press and it be held at the White House. They had the handshaking, the photo shoot, and then they spoke with the press there to witness the great promise this auspicious occasion proffered, their promise to hold talks as a follow up never materialized as Mahmoud Abbas had scheduling difficulties and then trotted out his preconditions and the rest is, as they say, history.
Until the world is willing to remove their blindfolds and actually seek the truth, there will be no progress or opportunity of restarting the moribund peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Pressuring Israel to make sacrifices for the sake of peace is a dead issue. Israel made sacrifices simply agreeing to the Oslo Accords. Israel made sacrifices simply agreeing to the building freeze. Israel made sacrifices simply agreeing to the starting point for borders to be the 1949 Armistice Lines as long as land swaps were also made possible. Israel made sacrifices simply agreeing to the disengage unilaterally from the entirety of the Gaza Strip for which they have been under years of rocket assaults launched by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, al-Qaeda in Gaza and any other terror entities from within highly dense civilian areas in order to avoid Israeli retaliations. Israel has committed to so much in the name of peace over the years including sacrifices made to the Palestinian Arabs before the State of Israel had even been founded by forgiving their claim to all of the British Mandate Lands in order for the British establishing a State for the Palestinian Arabs which is today’s country of Jordan. What most of the world has forgotten is that they all agreed when this reallocation of the Mandate lands east of the Jordan River were taken to form Transjordan that they would guarantee that all the remaining lands west of the Jordan River would be sacred and remain indivisible in perpetuity as the Jewish State. I still wait for any politician to admit and speak up reminding the world of their obligations which stem from the League of Nations and were reconfirmed by the United Nations Charter Article 80 and actually commit to the promises they made. I hope I can live long enough that my patience is some day rewarded.
Beyond the Cusp