Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stalemate over peace

Ashwari/By Carsten Sohn
It’s becoming a familiar refrain.
The Palestinians want their own state. The Quartet; the EU, Russia, the USA and the UN, push for an agreement.
The Israelis want to negotiate. The Palestinians claim they do. But not so long as the Israelis continue to build on the West Bank.
Now, a PLO official is rejecting out-of-hand a proposal being drafted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The AFP quotes Hanan Ashrawi as saying the plan is a “reinvention of Israeli occupation.”
The plan, mind you, hasn’t even been released yet. Ashrawi is rejecting based on reports of possible pieces of the plan that have been leaked.
Those leaked reports, if accurate, reflect a proposed resolution. That’s what happens in negotiations. One side proposes. The other side counter-proposes. Somewhere along the way there is a give and take. And then, hopefully, as a result of the negotiations, there is, ultimately, an agreement. But the Palestinian leadership, isn’t interested in first seeing the proposal, then counter proposing. Any proposal, the report says, that doesn’t give them everything they want, will be rejected.
The Palestinian game plan, it seems, is to say “no” to anything Israel offers even before it’s offered. In the hopes of getting the UN to believe that Israel is being unreasonable and uninterested in a negotiated settlement. In the hopes that a Palestinian state, with boundaries to their liking, will be declared and imposed. Leaving the Israelis out of the equation.
It’s not a strategy likely to work. Because, even an Obama administration that’s viewed as less-than-friendly toward Israel by many Israelis, isn’t likely to favor a non-negotiated settlement.
The Palestinians want a full and unconditional withdrawal from the West Bank of all Israelis, who they argue are illegally occupying land. The Israelis argue that ownership of the land’s in dispute. But even if they were successful in displacing about half-a-million Jews, a question remains. Would that actually result in a peace?
Given that the complete Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza in the name of peace hasn’t stopped the rocket attacks, launched, literally, from land the Israelis abandoned, one must wonder.
Israel is placed in a poor light even when it makes a complete withdrawal. Palestinians fire rockets into Israel. Israel retaliates. Israel gets criticized. Because its military prowess and weapons arsenal so surpasses that of the Palestinians. Palestinians who wanted them to leave in the name of peace. Then continued to attack when they did.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the United States Congress next month. Perhaps, then, he will detail his plan for a negotiated peace. Chances are, whatever he says, will be immediately rejected as unpalatable and a non-starting point by Ashrawi and company.
Gary Baumgarten is editor of The Jewish Reporter.

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