Starting yesterday meetings sponsored by King Hussein of Jordan in Amman were to be held for a couple days between Israeli and Palestinian representatives in an effort to restart negotiations, preferably official direct negotiations, between the Israelis and the Palestinian authority in time to meet the January 26 deadline for meeting the Quartet’s schedule for initial filings of proposals. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had quite a bit to say about his expectations and hopes for both the meetings and the potential negotiations. We will first quote his words and then try to discern exactly what they both meant and implied.
Abbas told reporters, “Allah willing, results of this meeting will be revealed in the coming two days, and based on that we will set the suitable grounds for resuming negotiations. This would be positive, and we hope Jordan will succeed. The Palestinian demand is well-known, which is for the Israelis to accept the identified references for the peace process, and to stop settlement expansion. If that happens, we will be ready to resume negotiations.”
Where Mahmoud Abbas has made a statement that on the surface sounds extremely hopeful and straightforward, there is a large elephant of a problem hidden within the innocent reference of, “The Palestinian demand is well-known, which is for the Israelis to accept the identified references for the peace process,…” This little aside hidden just past halfway through Mahmoud Abbas’s statement could pass by most readings without gaining much attention, especially in how he follows it up with a misleading reference as if it is the only demand he has made of Israel when he added, “…and to stop settlement expansion.” As is often the case, the Devil is in the details and, as usual, it is in the unspoken details. So, what exactly is Mahmoud Abbas making reference to when he demands, “…accept the identified references…”
As Mahmoud Abbas further stated, “the identified references” only start with his referred statement, “stop settlement expansion.” There are other unspoken and implied demands which have been mentioned in numerous different combinations and order, always feeling out how far the Palestinian Authority spokespeople can state safely without appearing to have unreasonable demands. Obviously, these demands are far more freely stated when speaking to friendly crowds in Arabic than is ever stated publically in English or Hebrew. For complete lists one often will need to reference those organizations such as MEMRI and PMW which translate much of that spoken, written, and telecast on radio or television in Arabic (or Farsi or other foreign languages) to Arab or Muslim crowds and audiences.
So, what exactly are the real demands that Mahmoud Abbas demands that the Israeli government grant the Palestinians in order for negotiations to begin? There is, of course, the stated demand that all Israeli building in the Settlement areas be suspended completely until a resolution of negotiations no matter how long that takes. Building in Jerusalem and its suburbs are included in the building ban including areas around the Western Wall, the Old City including the Jewish Sector and the rebuilding of any Synagogues which had been destroyed during the Jordanian occupation. Mahmoud Abbas also has stated he intends for the building ban to include all of the suburbs of Jerusalem even if they are parts which even the Palestinians have previously agreed were going to remain as a part of Israel. There is a demand for the release of every Palestinian prisoner held in Israeli custody. Another demand has been the complete removal of all IDF, Police, Border Guards and other enforcement personnel from all of the “occupied” (contested) lands. Israel will be required to accept the “1967 borders” (1949 temporary Armistice Lines which the Arab negotiators insisted were never to be construed as borders in any manner for all time as doing so would be a recognition of Israel) as the initial start for negotiating borders and should the Palestinians refuse to grant any land swaps, these would be the final boundary lines between the Palestinian State and Israel. Adding to this, the Palestinians have already stated they demand they retain all of the Old City of Jerusalem, the entire Temple Mount, the Western Wall and the plaza adjacent to the Western wall where they have plans to build houses and shops. There is also their long running demand that absolutely no Jew will be allowed to reside, work, visit or in any way be allowed upon any piece of sovereign Palestinian Lands. This demand would leave Kever Yosef (Joseph’s Tomb), the Machpelah (Cave of the Patriarchs), Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb), and near countless other Jewish Holy Sites completely outside of the reach of any Jew no matter if they are Israeli or from another country. The Palestinians have already begun to implement their plan to have every Jewish Holy Site be recognized as a Muslim Holy Site through their newly won membership in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and thereby remove any legitimacy of Jewish requests for access to these sites. There are a number of other demands, some of which have only been mentioned in speeches made during meetings of the Palestinian Parliament or in speeches given to local Arab audiences, some of which can be researched through some of the monitoring organizations such as the two mentioned earlier. Saving the best demand for last, even better than making every Jewish holy site Muslim and denying their Jewish historical evidence, there is the “Right of Return” which is a demand to allow anybody who can trace any ancestry to qualify as a Palestinian as per the rules of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), which is a separate United Nations entity solely for Palestinian refugees and completely separate from UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) so as to allow for a completely separate set of rules to be implemented in order to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee situation into a massive and constantly spreading open wound that the Muslim and Arab societies could use to assault Israel and be ready to inundate Israel once the world is convinced to agree that all the UNRWA refugees are to be allowed to return to live inside Israel, even if they had never been in or even seen Israel in their entire life. When taken objectively, the Palestinian demands as preconditions for negotiations is nothing more and nothing less than a complete set of demands that Israel capitulate on every single contention before negotiations begin to resolve these same issues. Should Israel agree to these demands in full which Mahmoud Abbas has referred to consistently for close to ten years now, adding items whenever anybody accidently or intentionally mentions a new demand on Israel such as the building freeze and the acceptance of the 1967 Lines which originated from the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who made these demands of Prime Minister Netanyahu early in President Obama’s first two years in office when he was acting seemingly with the premise that Israeli intransience was responsible for the lack of a Middle East peace, Israel would cease to exist.
The only good that can be taken from the litany of demands from the Palestinians is that no matter how many more items are added, they will not get any more self-destructive for Israel in their considerations of them. The current set would be the death of Israel as a homeland for the Jews. The one thing that is often added by Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and many others throughout the world, not just the Muslim world but the world, is that even if peace is finally attained, the Palestinians have promised and demanded of themselves that even then they cannot and will not give up on their resistance until they free all of Palestine from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea. With that addendum being attached to any peace treaty, why would anybody ever even consider negotiations, yet the Israelis still hold out hope that there can be negotiations held without preconditions. Abbas has answered them by claiming that he has not made preconditions, these are just small matters required to be met before negotiations can begin without preconditions. Such a deal!
Beyond the Cusp