As impossible as the situation appeared, the latest news is there will be a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President and Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the near future. At the behest of United States Secretary of State John Kerry, fully backed and supported by United States President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has agreed to impose an unannounced, silent, stealthy building freeze and to release as many as fifty pre-Oslo terrorists still serving life sentences from Israeli prisons. In return Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu without the rest of the litany of avoidance-driven preconditions being met in a complete appeasement by the Israelis. What may have been offered to President Abbas by Secretary Kerry, likely without Prime Minister Netanyahu’s knowledge, is unknown and may prove to be the poison pill that will derail this possibly last gasp attempt to reach an accord under the Oslo-Roadmap-Saudi peace based framework, though any final agreement would not meet all of any one peace-plan. After three years of President Abbas ardent avoidance of any honest negotiations, one may be rightfully shocked that Secretary Kerry was able to cajole, persuade, threaten, bribe and whatever else was required Abbas back to the negotiations table. Now the question is whether this will be another meet once and never meet again as was their prior meeting which required nine and a half months of a promised ten moth building freeze before even reach that one time meeting which was then followed by demands of a permanent freeze which was only the first of an endless litany of preconditions that were to be forthcoming. Where Secretary Kerry deserves accolades for this rather impossible accomplishment, the real accolades will only be forthcoming if he can pull the peace rabbit out of the Middle East hat.
Channel 2 News reported President Abbas told his associates he would be willing to meet Netanyahu under a limited format so as to test Prime Minister Netanyahu’s commitment to reaching a true and honest peace. Where this sounds promising when read in the Western world, those familiar with the history of the peace process will be wary at the conditional wording of the statement. This was the same promise that President Abbas made before their last meeting which resulted in a handshake and that was all as there were no further serious meetings or honest negotiations. The rest of Mahmoud Abbas’s acceptance reveals the likely path that he intends to pursue as he also posited that should Prime Minister Netanyahu not present serious proposals which meet Abbas’s expectations that rather than negotiate or make any counter offers, Abbas intends to announce that there exists a political stalemate under which it has become impossible for the continued operations of the Palestinian Authority with everything the way things are and Abbas will again unilaterally turn to the United Nations. This sits very well with the ongoing complaints that President Abbas has been expressing that the Palestinian Authority has run out of funds making it impossible to meet payroll or other necessary functions and that he will have to dissolve the government and drop the entire situation in Israel’s lap. The one interesting item has been that despite the presumed financial difficulties of the Palestinian Authority, they have not only been able to not only continue to pay salaries to the families of terror prisoners in Israeli prisons but have actually increased their payments. There has also been no decrease in the funding for the Hamas security forces in Gaza coming from Nablus which frees up Hamas funds for buying rockets and mortars with the money they save by not paying salaries of those in government within Gaza.
It will be surprising if these renewed peace negotiations last past one or, at most, two meetings before Mahmoud Abbas stalks out of the meetings refusing to return and starting his preparatory commentary that will lead to his bringing yet another request for Palestinian statehood before the United Nations this fall. The difficulty Abbas faces at the United Nations is that he is unable to find a way around the United States veto power in the Security Council which stands directly in the way of his receiving the necessary vote recognizing his desired state of Palestine with whatever borders he desires. After Abbas’s last trip to the United Nations where he received upgraded status from non-voting observer entity to non-voting observer state in the General Assembly by a highly lopsidedly favorable vote of one-hundred-thirty-eight in favor, nine against with forty-one abstentions, any definition up to and including fully recognized state would be delivered on a silver platter by a similarly lopsided affirmation and likely applause and much revelry. This vote granted him semi-state status despite the declaration not setting any borders, granting a capital city, or any other honest definitions required of any other nation but allowed him to attempt to gain membership in any United Nations Agency which was willing to grant membership, which UNESCO jumped at the opportunity almost immediately thereafter. Perhaps Abbas is working to bring Secretary Kerry to his side in the opinion that Abbas has done everything any reasonable person could ask and it has been Israel, and Netanyahu in particular, that has stood in the way of reaching a true peace in the hope of persuading both Secretary Kerry and President Obama into abstaining rather than vetoing another Palestinian petition in the Security Council for recognition of statehood relying that with the United States veto out of the way his dream of statehood is in the bag. The really frightening part is if Abbas manages to pull off receiving such a guarantee from the Obama Administration, then he would very probably have that cleared highway to statehood and possibly with whatever borders he would care to claim. If that should become the situation, then comes the really unthinkable question, what does the world do when Abbas and supporting nations agree that the borders of Palestine are from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea including Gaza and the Golan Heights and that Israel is simply in the way of the will of the people of the world. Would the world through the auspices of the United Nations declare a general state of war against Israel and gather their armies for the final push to erase the mistake of 1948, a position expressed very clearly and succinctly by numerous national and international leaders, organizations, and nations. We all know that a majority of the nations in the United Nations would most gladly and enthusiastically support such a decree and only a United States veto prevents the Security Council from also supporting such a motion. Should that day come everybody will need to make a choice on where they will stand for all time, and not choosing will be to have chosen to affirm the Palestinian request and this time the choice has permanent ramification possibly more than any other time throughout history. Talk about a fatal date in history; do we really need to say much else?
Beyond the Cusp