Israel Must Redefine Meaning of Concessions

Listen to any member of the Netanyahu government and initial words are “there is no partner among Arabs for discussion.” Prime Minister Netanyahu invariably complains about Palestinians demanding “preconditions” like discussion of east Jerusalem while he insists Israel control of the West Bank is a starting point for “mutual concessions.” His administration has been selling the Israel public a version in which former prime minister Ehud Olmert “gave up everything” when negotiating with Palestinian leaders. The UN partition plan clearly placed the West Bank under control of Arabs, but to the Israel government withdrawing from even an inch of “their West Bank” is perceived as a major concession. There is little doubt Palestinian leaders will accept having a part of the West Bank remain under Israel control, but that “concession” is not regarded as anything other than admitting the West Bank mainly belongs to Israel.

Fifty years ago, not a single Arab nation was willing to recognize the existence of the state of Israel, but today, the Arab League, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority accept that reality, but Israelis still insist there is “no one willing to negotiate with us.” Peace is possible if Israel will enter the realm of reality and cease living in a world that no longer exists.