Sunday, September 25, 2011

Palestinians reject Quartet's proposal to restart talks


Abbas passes on peace talks. Olivier Pacteau photo
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Does the Palestinian Authority really want peace with Israel? Or is it just looking for political and public relations victory at the expense of Israel?
These questions come to mind today as the Palestinian Authority rejects moves by the Quartet to get peace talks with Israel rolling again.
If the PA really wants peace – and a state of its own – does it matter what path is taken? Why does it matter whether it comes through a UN resolution or through negotiations.
If it comes through a UN resolution – the dispute over land will continue. If the Israelis and the Palestinians agree to boundaries, then the fight over who controls what lands comes to an agreed upon end.
It seems negotiations would be better for the Palestinians.
So why are they rejecting talks?
Perhaps it’s because they don’t feel they are ready to really come into the international community as leaders of an independent nation. The status quo allows them the luxury of positioning themselves as the underdogs. And Israel as the bad guys.
The PA becomes entitled. Operating on the largess of other nations (including Israel) in order to exist. Able to complain when they don’t have all they want. Blaming others. But not accepting responsibility for their own destiny.
Any failure to achieve full freedoms and success can be laid at the feet of the Israelis.
Ostensibly, the Palestinian Authority lays this failure on a return to the peace table, predictably, on the Israelis. It says it won’t enter talks with Israel without preconditions. Israel must agree to pre-1967 boundaries and a settlement freeze before negotiating.
The Authority knows that Israel will not agree to pre-’67 boundaries. Making this condition assures that there will be no peace talks.
Perhaps it is time for Israel to play the same game. Perhaps Israel should draw up boundaries that it envisions. Present them to the world. And tell the Palestinians that Israel won’t return to the bargaining table unless the Palestinians agree to accept those boundaries first.
Of course, if Israel were to do that, it would be viewed as being obstructive to peace. Fair enough. But, then, why aren’t the Palestinians viewed as being obstructive now?

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