The State Department of the United States once again made the same tired old New Year’s resolution, or should I say wish list, by once more urging that the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians return to negotiations and find a resolution. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated, “As we turn the calendar to 2013... now is the time for leaders on both sides to display real leadership, to focus on the work that's necessary to return to direct negotiations.” Her helpful suggestions were for, “both sides to clearly demonstrate that they are serious about achieving two states living side by side in peace and security,” adding that both sides, refrain from “counter-productive unilateral actions.” Ms. Nuland turned thoughtful and made this observation which had obviously escaped everybody else’s observations, “We have an environment that was quite fraught and quite difficult at the end of 2012, so the question is whether we can make a fresh start in 2013, and that's going to require restraint on all sides. We want 2013 to be a better year, we really do.” How can anybody expect anything short of miracles to suddenly bloom and both sides to come together and hold a hoedown.
Well, let’s take a look at what needs to occur from both sides in order for negotiations to actually produce results. We will start with the Palestinian side. Numerous times, almost as many times as we’ve discussed this, Mahmoud Abbas has given a partial list which varies from time to time, depending on the atmospheric conditions, orientation of the stars, and his horoscope, of preconditions he requires the Israelis fulfill before he would be able to even consider joining into negotiations. His precondition lists usually start with almost understandable demands as if you can get anything from the other side before negotiations begin, you have gained the advantage and that is one less area of contention. Examples of such are the Israelis accepting the pre Six Day War which are also the 1949 Armistice lines as the starting point for negotiations for boundaries for the Palestinian State, a complete freeze of any and all Israeli building of any variety beyond the same boundaries, the surrender of the Old City areas of Jerusalem, the surrender of the entirety of the Temple Mount, and the surrender of the Western Wall and the Plaza where Jews regularly gather to pray as it is the closest Jews can come to praying at the holiest site of Judaism which is the Temple Mount.
There is a secondary level of preconditions which the Palestinian leadership regularly trot out just in case anybody might think that if only the Israelis make some offer of compromise which was the whole idea behind United States President Barack Obama’s forcing of a ten month building freeze on Prime Minister Netanyahu in order to entice Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table near the beginning of the President’s first term. It was during that time when Mahmoud Abbas first previewed some of his additional preconditions. Some of these include the release of the majority of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel serving life sentences, release of all Palestinian from Israeli prisons as part or at the end of negotiations, open route under Palestinian control and security between Gaza and Judea and Samaria cutting Israel in halves, no restrictions on military buildup of Palestinian security forces, ability to hold military training exercises with other nations within Palestine, removal of all roadblocks and checkpoints anywhere in the West Bank, recognition of all Islamic holy sites in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) which a subset of these sites bears a remarkable similarity to the Jewish and Christian holy sites, and the requirement that upon completion of negotiations every single Jew must be removed from within the lands denoted as the Palestinian state and be forbidden from reentering these lands in perpetuity thus placing the majority of Jewish holy sites out of the reach of the Jewish people both Israeli and non-Israeli.
Then there are the deal busters which Mahmoud Abbas has trotted out any time it appears that the Israelis might actually agree to meet any of his preconditions. These are the real beyond the pale demands which no Jewish or Israeli leader would ever agree to grant. These include the Right of Return within Israel with full rights as citizens of over four and a half million Palestinian refugees as listed by UNRWA, the Palestinians are not to be held to consider any agreement as final and must be permitted their understandable right to continue protests until all of the Palestinian lands have been liberated which means they get to continue their terror war, and they then claim that these are not preconditions at all; they are simply items and obligations which Israel is required to fulfill in order to prove to the Palestinians and the world that they are seriously interested in peace.
There are some items that Israel has declared that must be included in the final agreement which are that Israel be recognized as the Jewish State, the agreement be an end to incitement, terror, rockets, and other forms of attacks, and recognition that all of Jerusalem belongs to Israel and Israel understands the existence of Christian and Islamic holy sites in addition to Jewish sites and that Israel will fulfill their obligation to allow free access for all religions to their holy religious places while Israel intends to be allowed access to Jewish holy sites within Palestine. Mahmoud Abbas has never stated that he would refuse allowing Jews to visit the Jewish holy sites in Judea and Samaria and has left that to others to state; Abbas has simply claimed that no Jewish holy sites exist anywhere in the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and figures that settles the need for Jewish access as there are no places to visit.
There is one thing I would love to hear from Ms. Nuland or any of the other United States State Department spokespeople, exactly what do they expect from the Israelis who are willing to come to the table and attempt to hammer out some agreement between the two sides which they both give and receive some amounts of what each side claims while Mahmoud Abbas simply wants to hold a signing ceremony after the Israelis have met his demand over every single negotiable point which exists and then some. My bet is that had the Jewish people accepted the alternate offer the British had proposed, taking Madagascar in which to build their Jewish state, Mahmoud Abbas along with Yasser Arafat would have sailed their and claimed it as Islamic lands of the ancient Madagascar Muslims and they were here to take back their ancient homeland. Would you bet against such a preposterous idea and feel safe?
Beyond the Cusp