Tag Archives: Abbas

Abbas-Netanyahu Impasse Continues

One senses after over a half century of conflict and refusal to reach an agreement, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be a topic of conversation in 2110. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would like to engage in some form of dialogue with President Abbas in order to get President Obama off his back, but the two opponents are deadlocked over which one will enter discussions without guarantees their ideas will be the focus of negotiation. Of course, Netanyahu may still be centered in the old saying of former Israel prime minister Ben-Gurion who mockingly insisted Israelis should not be concerned with what Gentiles(and, Muslims) said, but what Jews want to do. At some point there can not be an agreement unless Netanyahu agrees to some form of joint governance of Jerusalem and limits the amount of land Israelis will keep of the West Bank. Abbas is prepared to allow Israel control of some portions of the West Bank in exchange for territory exchange, and an agreement concerning Palestinian refugees that is an “agreed and just solution.”

Ironically, both sides can secure about 90% of what they desire if they so desire peace. The question is whether both men are so anxious for peace that they will defy extremists in their own camp.

Abbas Urges US Imposed Peace

Palestinian President Abbas urged the Obama administration to confront reality and impose its version of a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He argued that America continues to assume their role as a mediator means assuming a role of impartiality between two opposing groups which theoretically have equal power in negotiation. This is a theory that has not relationship to reality. Palestinians live under the rule of Israel and lack military or economic power to offer much resistance to demands of Israel authorities. Palestinians also confront an opponent who seeks a peace agreement based on temporary borders for Palestinians.

Reality is no Palestinian government can accept a treaty in which up to forty percent of their nation’s boundaries is yet to be defined. Netanyahu refuses to accept any firm commitment other than “we will get to that matter at some point in the future.” There must be clarity and as of this point in time, neither of the opponents is prepared to negotiate any lasting agreement.

To Negotiate Or Not To Negotiate In Middle East?

President Obama in his State of the Union message discussed a wide variety of domestic and foreign policy issues, but conspicuous by its absence was any mention of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority once again told America and the world it would not resume negotiations until Israel ceases housing construction in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. He agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state if that was an item in the entire range of issues to be resolved for peace. He spoke honestly about why it was ridiculous to return to a bargaining table that had nothing to bargain about. “If Israel says in the meeting that it will not accept the 1967 borders and that it is not prepared to discuss Jerusalem and the refugee situation, what is there to talk about?”

The dilemma is no discussion can proceed on topics such as who rules east Jerusalem if Israel continues building homes for Jews and evicting Arabs. The actions of the current Netanyahu administration make impossible any meaningful discussions. President Abbas never said he was unwilling to discuss the West Bank and, perhaps, agree to some modifications of the 1967 boundary, but such concessions will only emerge after Israel ceases building. It is in the best interests of Israel to halt construction and negotiate with Abbas about territorial modifications.

Arab Non-Violence Finally Arrives!

Just before leaving office, former President Bill Clinton attempted to broker a peace agreement which witnessed Israel agree to give Palestinians a separate nation, about 94% of the West Bank and its capital in east Jerusalem, but Yasser Arafet preferred to play the demagogue game of demanding everything. His reaction was to launch the intifada which disintegrated into violence and incoherence. For the first time in over three decades, Israel has an Arab leader who wants to attain peace through peaceful means. Instead of violence, he is calling for a unilateral of statehood, an appeal to the United Nations for recognition of his new government and demanding Israel citizenship for Palestinians. One may not agree with his demands but nothing in them suggests any call for violence toward Israel. Unlike the Clinton administration, President Obama is allowing this opportunity to slip away due to his passivity and refusal to support ideas he was championing a few months ago.

Many Israelis are angry because Abbas will not return to the negotiating table. But, why should he? On one hand, Prime Minister Netanyahu argues against “preconditions,” but on the other hand he insists discussion about east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian nation or return of refugees can not be discussed. Huh? Mr. Netanyahu are you for or against preconditions?

PEACE OR SETTLEMENTS-WHICH WAY ISRAEL?

The people of Israel for half a century have sought in vain to encounter Arab groups which seek peace rather than violence. Ironically, finally, the long desired event has come true with the emergence of President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, who has demonstrated a desire for peace. So, what happens when peace if possible? The Israel government decides to pursue the desire for land and politics over the desire for peace. Abbas dismissed an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to implement a temporary freeze in housing settlements in the West Bank for ten months as a ploy since it still would allow housing to go on in Jerusalem. Actually, even as Netanyahu was announcing a “freeze,” Defense Minister Barak was authorizing further housing.

One is left with the impression either those in the Israel government do not know what is the policy or that Prime Minister Netanyahu is playing word games. As Abbas put it succinctly, “the Israel minister had to choose between peace and occupation.” The ball is in the court of Israel, which game will it decide to play-peace or continued impasse?

Abbas Stands Firm On Palestinian Rights!

President Mahmoud Abbas not only postponed elections, but used the anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat to send a message to the United States and Israel that Palestinians were tired of being pushed around and compelled to accept demands before they attend any peace conference. He was never enthralled by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be praised for agreeing to exercise “restraint” on building more settlements in the West Bank. Abbas was reacting to the hypocritical comments of Netanyahu who demanded no preconditions from Abbas at a peace meeting even as he insisted Israel would not allow discussion of the return of refugees nor of the future of east Jerusalem.

At this point in time, the israel government is completely responsible for the current impasse. It can not on one hand insist on no preconditions while on the other hand demand that Palestinians are not allowed to discuss the refugee issue, the issue of east Jerusalem, and promise to accept that Israel is a “Jewish state” even though about 20% of the population is Muslim. That would bee equivalent to requiring nations of the world to agree the United States was a “Christian nation.”

Netanyahu To Abbas–Let’s Have Peace-On My Terms!

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Abbas that”we should not place preconditions for holding talks,” but went on to note on the desire for Palestinians to allow return of refugees who fled in 1948, “they must abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, give up irredentist claims to the Negev and Gaiilee and declare unequivocally that the conflict is over.” I assume when Netanyahu is informing Palestinians what they must agree to prior to talks he is not stating preconditions, just the basic goals of his government. The prime minister boasted his willingness to proceed with current construction was a major offer that no prior Israeli government had given.

It’s clear Benjamin Netanyahu views the process of “negotiation” as an opportunity for Palestinians to agree to his views about any settlement. No wonder President Abbas is tired of this ridiculous bargaining stance by the Israel government and no longer wants any part of it.

If there are no preconditions, then it must equally apply to Palestinians and to the Israel government. We avoid saying, “Jews,” since hundreds of thousands of Muslims live in Israel. It is the state of Israel, it is not a “Jewish state.”

Israel Leader Urges Abbas To Continue Fight

Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a public plea to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging that he continue fighting for peace in the Middle East and not refuse to run for re-election. “I turn to you as a colleague and ask that you don’t let go. Yitzhad(Rabin) is not with us, but he lives in our midst as a figure, as a policy, as a purpose: a joint purpose of a just society and comprehensive peace-two inseparable goals.” Unfortunately, the Israel that Rabin represented has been replaced by one which views ultra nationalist, Muslim hating Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as a man who can be trusted to conduct intelligent, honest negotiations. President Obama told Israel that “Israelis will not find true security while the Palestinians are gripped hopelessness and despair.”

There are rumors the Palestinian Authority will simply declare itself an independent nation on the basis of its 1967 border with Israel. This will result in the world recognizing the new nation and creating problems for Israel which will once again be isolated. The ongoing problem is that Israelis prefer the martyrdom of isolation to the security of peace.

Abbas Steps Down As Leader Of Fatah-What Next Israel?

For half a century, Israel leaders complained they were unable to find people in the Arab world who were willing to negotiate for peace. Finally, President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah, became a voice seeking peace and willing to enter into diplomatic negotiations with the Israel government. So, what was the response of Israel? Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu placed one barrier after another in the path of peace and refused to abandon West Bank settlements even though he knew it was impossible for any Palestinian leader to accept the abandonment of an area that belonged to Arab people under the UN partition plan. President Obama attempted to steer an even path between Palestinians and Israelis and urged Israel to cease further West Bank construction. Netanyahu just ignored the president. Secretary of State Clinton stepped into the situation and indicated how pleased she was that Netanyahu might promise at some future time to do something about the west bank.

President Abbas announced he is not running for re-election. There is no question when Palestinians select a more radical person as their president, Israel will commence to sound the alarm and complain how could they negotiate with radicals? The reason is simple, Israel created the current problem and only Israel can solve it.

Obama Pushes Middle East Peace Forward

After President Obama met with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, both sides agreed to resume discussions on peace for the Middle East. According to Netanyahu, “there was general agreement, including on the part of the Palestinians, that the peace process has to be resumed as soon as possible with no preconditions.” President Abbas has displayed a desire for peace by backing off his legitimate demand for an end to further housing in West Bank settlements. He expects Israel to discuss “restraining settlement activities.”

Obama praised Palestinians for improving their security system and he praised Israel for ending certain restrictions on the movement of Palestinians. Now, is the time for Prime Minister Netanyahu to make a dramatic statement that would push forward the peace process. How about:

1. Promising that Israel will not fight to keep all settlements on the West Bank and is ready to negotiate on this issue!
2. Agreeing to a conference which would discuss Arab refugees from Israel and Jewish refugees from Arab nations.
3. Establishment of an Education Committee of Arabs and Jews which would review educational materials in both Israel and Palestinian schools that deal with the 1948 war.