Thursday 1 August 2013

The latest Israel-Palestinian peace talks. How bad can they be?

The latest Israel-Palestinian peace talks. How bad can they be?
Original Thinking by Barry Shaw.

True, there is not much optimism surrounding the launch of the Kerry-inspired peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, at least the leadership based in Ramallah. Not that the leadership based in Gaza are any friendlier.

We have already seen protests against the proposed release of over a hundred Palestinian terrorists. It is fair to say that the majority of Israelis object strongly to this pre-condition. They object because their release is not linked to any final and permanent peace deal. Most Israelis, I guess, would accept this as a terrible but inevitable price to pay for comprehensive peace. The fear is that these murderers are to be released simply to persuade Abbas to enter the negotiating room. This is a terrible and ominous condition. That is why Israeli ministers have been muttering something about it being a trade-off for something in the future they cannot speak about right now. Maybe, but the Israeli public has raised a yellow card as a warning notice to its government.

Optimists say that talk is better than no talk. I’m not so sure. With the current state of Palestinian politics, with what the Palestinians are telling their people in Arabic on their television, in their print press, and in their mosques and schools about a land from the river to the sea, and with the stated intentions of Mahmoud Abbas, Israel have very good reason to fear the outcome of these talks.

In my opinion, they are pre-doomed to failure. They are pre-doomed to failure because that is the intention of Mahmoud Abbas. Mahmoud Abbas has something that Israel does not have. That is Plan B. His Plan B is more important to him than talks that, according to his agenda, are bound to head nowhere.
He knows he will not get what he wants from the current Israeli government. He didn’t get what he wanted from the last Israeli government of Olmert. That is why he walked away with the maps, the very generous maps, and didn't come back.

He is prepared to let his negotiators waste the next nine months, or sooner if the talks blow up before the scheduled timetable. The reason for the breakdown will always be his non-acceptance of Israeli needs, whether they are land, Jerusalem, Israelis remaining in sensitive areas, refugees, or security requirements, but the breakdown will always be posed as Israeli intransigence rather than the lack of Palestinian flexibility.
Mahmoud Abbas can be as tough as he wants in these talks. Why should he be less European than the European Union who, in their total lack of diplomatic wisdom, came out with the unilateral directives punishing Israel for any future beyond the notorious and fictitious 1967 lines.  This will come back to haunt Israel when the Abbas negotiators declare failure. It will justify his Plan B.

Plan B will start off, as the failures of the two previous sets of peace talks did, with violence carefully orchestrated by the Palestinian leadership that will leave many Israelis dead and injured.
Plan B is what Abbas wanted to do a long time ago, but was prevented from doing it mainly by America. That is to go to the United Nations. He will go to New York, when talks fail, backed by an atmosphere of chaos and anger on the Palestinian street (read death on the Israeli street), to tell the General Assembly, where he has an automatic majority, that he negotiated in good faith but failed due to the Israelis. He will then request a vote on statehood for the Palestinians based on the lines that were rejected in the talks. The truth is he will get it. It’s a given. America will have a hard time holding back the weight of Third World countries, linked to the European nations who have already told us whose side they are on.

Can anybody tell me that this will not be the inevitable outcome of the current peace talks? They are a fraud because both sides know they are leading nowhere.

My gloomy prediction is made even worse by the fact that Israel does not have its own Plan B.

Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is also the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’

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