Settlements are still not the problem

Before I start I’d like to make a clarification. I support the “two state for two nations” solution. Given the chance for a real peace accord with the Palestinian Authority, with satisfactory security arrangements (i.e. that the day – or years – after the pullout rockets don’t fly onto Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), I will support a withdrawal from settlements in the West Bank and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state along the pre-1967 cease fire lines. I believe that the majority of Israelis will do the same.

A few months ago I wrote here why settlements are not the problem. Obviously U.S. President Barack Obama did not read my advice. I am bewildered by the worlds’ pressure on Israel to continue the moratorium on building construction in the West Bank.

Yasser Arafat negotiated with Israel for eight years without a moratorium. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself negotiated with Israeli governments without a moratorium. So why insist now on this relatively minor issue?

When the French Prime Minister, the British Foreign Minister, the UN General Secretary and the EU Foreign Minister, together with the American President, insist that Israel do so – how can anyone expect Abbas to be any less of a Palestinian patriot?

Once again, the West is showing its lack of understanding of honour politics and Middle-Eastern negotiation culture. It seems the “settlements” have become the big bad wolf, an obstacle to peace impossible to surmount. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to call for direct talks to hammer out an agreement within a year. Talks will include an agreed upon formula for settlements. (A formula already put forward and agreed upon twice). Yet they insist. I’m truly baffled.

Here are some other obstacles to peace the world may want to consider:

  • Gilad Shalit is (illegally) imprisoned in Gaza without access to medical treatment or the Red Cross for over four years.
  • Since the beginning of direct talks Palestinian terror groups, both Fatah and Hamas, have redoubled their efforts to murder Israelis. Four Israelis have been murdered. Four wounded. Six orphaned.
  • Hamas (illegally) controls Gaza and with it about half of the Palestinian population (Hamas = genocidal, jihadist, radical Islamist, etc.)
  • Abbas’s legitimacy to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians is questionable.
  • 62 years later, there are still refugee camps in the West Bank and the PA is working against allowing 400,000 Palestinians basic civil rights in Lebanon.
  • Incitement against Israelis and Jews (kill, Jihad, sacrifice, blood, martyrs etc.) is still an everyday occurrence in Palestinian television and education systems.
  • The PA does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign Jewish nation.
  • Iran.

Should we wait for all these to be cleared before resuming talk?

Once again, Abbas is proving he is not interested in negotiations. He is interested in  blame.

To recap: For the first time in history an Israeli prime minister announced a moratorium on settlement construction. The same PM also announced his acceptance of the two-state solution. This too is an historic event.

But Netanyahu got nothing in return. The moratorium was in effect for 10 months. The PA decided to do everyone a favour and join the direct talks one month before the end of the moratorium. Abbas wasted nine months, but became the most sought-after, cuddled and cajoled world leader. Now he needs a ladder to be able to climb down his tree. Western leaders are pushing him further up the tree.

The PLO (Abass’ home party) urges Abbas to suspend the talks pushing him further still. But he will wait for the Arab League to make a formal announcement.

Meanwhile the Arab summit originally called for Monday Oct. 4 was postponed. I hope they are working on building a ladder. For all our sakes

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