Palestine – Where To From Here?

August 24, 2012 by David Singer
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Israel’s Foreign Minister – Avigdor Liberman – has written to Her Excellency Baroness Ashton –  High Representative  of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security “to demonstrate Israel’s goodwill, desire to build trust and sincere desire to create a positive atmosphere vis a vis the PA, with the goal of bringing our neighbors back to the table of direct negotiations. “…writes David Singer.

The PA has refused to resume direct negotiations until Israel agrees to impose a construction freeze in the West Bank for the duration of such resumed negotiations – which Israel refuses to do.

 

Mr Liberman has listed the following “significant gestures” made by Israel to attract the PA to drop its demand for a freeze and return to the negotiating table – which he claims are “ not properly represented or reflected in the policy of the European Union or the Quartet on this subject.”

  1. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Shteinitz and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad concluded (July 31) arrangements with respect to the transfer of goods between Israel and the PA and related tax procedures as recommended by the International Monetary Fund.
  2. In light of the PA‘s budget crisis, Israel transferred at the beginning of the month of Ramadan (July 27) an advance of NIS 180 million (approximately USD 45 million) of August tax remittances. The money was intended to help the PA pay salaries in time to celebrate the holiday.
  3. An agreement was concluded (July 14) to employ an additional 5,000 Palestinian construction workers in Israel;
  4. The number of roadblocks was reduced to 10, most of which are normally open;
  5. The remains of Palestinian terrorists were returned (May 31).
  6. Israel agreed to develop the gas field off the Gaza shoreline.
  7. Israel is promoting infrastructure projects in Area C, including completion of a master plan. In 2011, 119 infrastructure projects were approved, 58 of them with international financing. Fifteen projects relating to the construction and renovation of infrastructures for schools and clinics have received “fast-track” approval.

Mr Liberman complains that there has been no willingness or positive attitude on the part of the PA to reciprocate these moves – and has pointed to the following actions undertaken  in the diplomatic and legal arenas against Israel:

  1. Attempts to accelerate illegal construction in Area C of the West Bank where sole  responsibility is vested in Israel (including dragging the EU into this problematic activity)
  2. Encouraging an economic boycott on the Israeli economy in the West Bank
  3. Generating repeated negative statements against Israel.
  4. Blaming Israel for the murder of Yassir Arafat
  5. Ongoing institutionalized incitement in the Palestinian media, attacking Israel and the legitimacy of the State’s existence.

Mr Liberman has also made a stinging attack on PA President Mahmoud Abbas claiming:

  1. Mr. Abbas is apparently is uninterested or unable — due to his standing in the domestic Palestinian scene vis a vis Hamas, and in light of the regional geopolitical situation — to reach an agreement which would bring an end to the conflict, including addressing all the core issues.
  2. Mr Abbas is creating a culture of blaming Israel for delaying the process, while attempting to achieve advantages without negotiation via blackmailing and ongoing attempts to internationalize the conflict – which he says can be confirmed by the Jordanians.
  3. In a calculated manner, Mr. Abbas is focusing his dialogue with the international community on the subject of settlements. Unfortunately – Mr Liberman further claims – the international community tends to accept this discourse lock, stock and barrel, without criticism or a nuanced approach. This is a damaging attitude, which according to Mr Liberman does not reflect the reality on the ground.

Mr Liberman is at pains to further point out that:

  1. The entire area of the settlements constitutes approximately one percent of the area of the West Bank.
  2. The last settlement which Israel constructed was in 1991.
  3. In the framework of the peace accord with Egypt (1979), Israel evacuated all the settlements and military bases in Sinai.
  4. In 2005 – Israel evacuated all of its settlements from the Gaza Strip, as well as four settlements in the northern West Bank  – and since such withdrawal 14,000 rockets and missiles have been  indiscriminately shot at towns and villages in southern Israel from Gaza.

Mr Liberman makes the following further points in relation to the vexed issue of settlements:

  1. Facts and history, as opposed to the simplistic stereotypes and political bias, contradict the idea that somehow the settlement enterprise is the main obstacle to renewing the negotiations.
  2. This premise simply does not stand up to the test of reality or the historic precedent of the peace process between Israel and its neighbors. Both peace accords, with Egypt and Jordan, were signed when settlements existed;
  3. The claim that settlements are the obstacle to peace is unfounded

Mr Liberman’s  prescription for restarting the stalled negotiations calls for fresh general elections for the PA to enable a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership to be elected.  Such elections were due to be held in 2010 and have since been postponed several times. No new date has been set for such elections.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak have since made it very clear that such a proposal does not represent Israel‘s official position. Clearly the European Union could not in such circumstances be expected to endorse Mr Liberman’s proposal as a possible circuit breaker to get negotiations started again.

However – the European Union cannot keep walking the diplomatic tightrope and simply ignore Mr Liberman‘s letter.

Surely the way forward now requires the European Union to indicate whether it considers that the PA should resume negotiations without preconditions in the light of the “significant gestures“ made by Israel.

If the answer is in the affirmative – then  the European Union should indicate whether the PA’s  refusal to do so would result in the PA being isolated from total or partial diplomatic and financial support from the European Union until the PA resumes such negotiations.

If the answer is in the negative – then the European Union should spell out what it considers needs to be further done by Israel to get the parties around the negotiating table – and whether Israel’s refusal to do so would result in Israel being isolated from total or partial diplomatic and financial support from the European Union until Israel meets the European Union’s requirements

A one line throwaway response from the European Union will not suffice. Baroness Ashton needs to pen a detailed reply to Mr Liberman without delay.

Mr Liberman has put Israel’s cards on the table. Now it is time for the European Union to do likewise.

 David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

 

 

Comments

18 Responses to “Palestine – Where To From Here?”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Ben
    whatever or whoever you are, you reckon that your delicate persona has been abused !??
    We tolerate you only because you represent so galantly the ineptitude that makes the pro-palestinian entire argument , their reason of existence. Your displays of acute intellectual shortcomings is the best revelation of a failed ideology and this is Celestial mana to your Zionist “targets”,so keep on taking yourself seriously because it is both entertaining and highly profitable to us..

    • Ben says:

      Hello Waldman

      As I said, personal attacks dont bother me, they only reveal the intelelctual and moral bankruptcy of Zionist advocacy. Any one who reads the debates will only be strengthened in their opposition to Zionism. You are welcome to conduct a principled debate or continue with smear, abuse and slander. Doesn’t bother me in the least. People trying to discover the truth can draw their own conlusions from the exchanges here.

  2. Ben says:

    Hello Rami

    The evacuation from Gaza, an arid strip of little economic value, was as you said unilateral, not negotiated. Israel moved the guardposts to the border and imposed a blockade while moving more troops, settlers into the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

    Personal abuse doesn’t bother me. It only betrays the moral and intellectual emptyness of those who indulge in it.

    • Shirlee says:

      Ben

      To falsely accuse, shows you are sensitive to your false ideas. If you have issues with the ‘editors’ you know the answer.

    • Paul Winter says:

      Ben, you state that Israel withdrew from Gaza to “borders” without negotitations. Would you be so kind as to cite the document which specified where the borders was, when was it negotiated and who were the signatories. Until you do that, your claim that borders existed is pure pallyprop pap.

      The blockade was imposed because the Gaza gang repaid the evacuation and the donation of working farms by jihad against civilians. Israel withdrew the Jewish residents but is not moving Jews into Judea or Samaria. Again, where are the documents that state that Judea and Samaria belong to Pals?

      In a defensive war a victorious defender has a right to compensation, often in the form of territory. The Jew-hating world makes the exception for Israel. It cannot claim anything from its enemies. The rule is that mohammedans can attack again and again but must not be punished by loss of land or a blockade. That rule is one of lawlessness, hypocrisy and antisemitism. That is the rule that you urge upon us Ben. Shame on you.

      • Ben says:

        Hello Mr Winter

        Are you suggesting Israel did not evacuate gaza ? And the borders are where the Israeli checposts and border crossings are. Israel and the rest of the world call them crossings, so where do they exist ?

        • Paul Winter says:

          Bwn, most people learn to read befor they start to write; I suggest that you do likewise. Israel withdrew to lines that existed before the 1967 expulsion of Egyptian occupiers. Those lines are armistice lines and not borders; borders are agreed separation lines between states and those agreements are reached by negotiations. There are no negotiations and there are no legal instruments designating such separation lines.

  3. Ben says:

    Hello david
    let me place some details into the “garbage”. The freeze did not include settlement activity already approved.
    Whether it is 100 % of West Bak or not, Israel is spending billions of dollars ans placing tens of thousands of armed settlers in the West Bank with the intention of demolishing the settlements and removing the settlers ?

    The personal abuse here is meaningless and only displays the bankruptcy, moral and intellectual, of Zionist hasbara.

    Incidentally, the editors don’t seem to enforce their satted rules published on the site/

    • david says:

      Ben

      Ben

      So now you admit there was a freeze. That is a real breakthrough.

      How do you think the freeze would possibly apply to buildings already approved and in the course of construction?

      Israel is not “placing tens of thousands of armed settlers in the West Bank”. They are moving there voluntarily to reconstitute the Jewish National Home as was envisaged in the Mandate for Palestine and the UN Charter – whose provisions are alive and kicking today.

      Many are indeed armed – to protect their families from murderers such as those Palestinian Arabs who slit the throats of the 5 members of the Fogel family whilst they were asleep in Itamar.

      You now appear to concede that 100% of the West Bank will not necessarily be included in any Palestinian Arab state – so that at least some of the Jewish settlements will become part of Israel in any final status negotiations. What made you ever think the Palestinian Arabs had a lay down claim to 100%?

      How many billions of dollars is Israel spending? What is your source for that claim?

    • Shirlee says:

      Ben

      The way you have jumped here only proves that you know you are wrong, very wrong. Especially as you are complaining about personal abuse, where there is none.

      Want personal abuse?

      I’ll give you some. I was called a liar a few weeks back on one of your pro-Palestinian sites for daring to speak the truth.

      I said that Israel wasn’t an apartheid state and telling of my recent visit to Israel, where I saw girls with hijabs at Tel Aviv uni, I sat in McDonald’s with two Arab hijabed girls in TA with their children, how I sat chatting with a Arab taxi driver, how my nephew had an Arab doing some work in his house and more

      That is personal abuse.

      • Ben says:

        Hello Shirlee

        The remark about personal abuse was an aside. Any one who reads the statements here can see the ad hominem smears and slander.
        Tere is no petty aparthied in Israel but a core aparthied of a Jewish majority created and perpetuated by the massacre and expulsion of the indigenous people and not permitting their return.
        And there is more open apartheid in the West Bank where Jewish settlers live under civil rule while the Palestinians are subject to military rule, exclusion from highways and even have separate coloured number plates.

        Sorry, it is disingenous to try to conceal these basic truth. As you can see there only factyual discussion in this post, nothing about the persons who made the posts. That is the absence of personal abuse.

  4. Shirlee says:

    I believe Ben said previously that he is Jewish.

    No doubt part of the ‘loony left’ and a NIF supporter

  5. Liat Nagar says:

    The talks are, and always have been, about two States, Ben, one of which is the independent State of Israel and its right to exist and live securely. When the Palestinians acknowledge that very basic tenet it might be possible to get somewhere.

  6. Lynne Newington says:

    Ben, are you Jewish or decendant? The christian name suggests you are but your words betray you.
    How can you be so close minded, it beggars belief!

  7. Ben says:

    The talks, presumably, are about the future Palestinian state. Israel is continuning building settlements, no Israeli governemnt ha stopped settlement building in three decades, in the same land that is supposed to become the future Palestinian state.
    So what would be the point of talks ? Other than to draw the wool over the eyes of the world ? Makes as much sense talking the division of a pie while eating it.

    • Rami says:

      Ben, Your analogy is nonsense. Israel vacated all settlements in the Sinai after the peace treaty with Egypt and unilaterally vacated all Israeli settlements in Gaza in August 2005. In return she was struck by thousands of rockets from the Gaza strip as a ‘thank you’. Besides that, Israel offered the Palestinians a state in the year 2000, 2001 together with Pres. Clinton and also in 2008 by Olmert.. The Palestinians refused or didn’t reply to these offers (all over 90% of the WB plus land swaps). It is true that Israel has not built even one new settlement in the WB since 1991. Please show me one if you wish to dispute this statement.

    • Paul Winter says:

      Ben, for a change, albeit unintentionally, you said something worthwhile. If I have a pie and because I am a decent human being I am willing to share it with you, I have a right to eat it until you learn to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. The longer you scream and carry on, the less my appetite to share and I will keep on eating the pie until you are left with nothing but your hate to sup on.

      There are no ‘Palestinians’; they were created by the KGB in 1964. There are no “Palestinian” lands; UNGA 181 was never binding and the Arabs killed it by their 1948 invasion, their terror, their repeated wars against Israel and now their war by other means. Jews owe the islamofascists zilch. As David pointed out elsewhere and as the Levy report confirms, under the terms of the San Remo Conference, Jews have the right to settle everywhere within the Mandated territories. That right is not nullified by Arab declarations.

      Apart from that, the Poms have already given the Pals a country. It was called Trans-Jordan until they invaded and conquered Judea and Samaria. If the Pals want a country they can go to the present day Jordan. And if they turn that it into Palistan, Israel will just have to send them packing to their ancestral home, Arabia.

    • David says:

      Ben

      A lot of garbage once again.

      1. Israel imposed a 10 month residential building freeze in the West Bank in November 2009

      2. What becomes a Palestinian Arab State is to be determined in negotiations. 100% of the West Bank is not a foregone conclusion by any means.

      3. If the Palestinian Authority refuses to return to the negotiating table they will only prove yet again that the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The state they yearn for could have been theirs – and more – in 1937, 1947, between 1948-1967, 2000/2001 and 2008

      Are you ever going to be able to post a response to my articles that is factually correct?

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