It has been something of a tradition for more than 40 years now for American secretaries of state, often relatively late in the presidency of their boss, to get Israeli and Palestinian negotiators into a “peace process.” One can see how looking out from Foggy Bottom the challenge can be quite tempting: So little divides the sides! So much good could come from a settlement!
...The latest problem arose when the Palestinians claimed that Israel had reneged on a pledge to release 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners by March 31, the last installment of 104 prisoners Israel agreed to free when the talks got underway last summer. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, then announced that he intended to sign applications as the “State of Palestine” to join 15 United Nations treaties and conventions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel declared that this violated a Palestinian agreement not to seek statehood outside negotiations with Israel, and said he would not free the 26.
...Mr. Netanyahu has made it a central condition for an agreement that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” something Mr. Abbas has flatly refused to do.
Mr. Kerry has tried every tack, even suggesting that the United States might release Jonathan Pollard, an American sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for passing secrets to Israel. Mr. Netanyahu has regularly demanded Mr. Pollard’s release, depicting him as an American Jew who naïvely wanted to help Israel. The American intelligence community has painted Pollard as a greedy traitor who did serious damage to American interests.
Israel released, thrice, prisoners.
Livni insisted on Saturday that the release was delayed only because of the PA demand that the prisoners to be freed include Arab Israelis convicted of terrorism. That, she told Channel 2, would necessitate "a new framework".
"I clarified to the Americans and the Palestinians we wouldn't release Israeli prisoners unless it were under a different context," she said.
Abbas, from the beginning, refuses to recognize Israel as the "Jewish state".
Promotes terror worship, too. Permits anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist incitement on Pal. Authority media.
Saeb Erekat, chief neogtiator, lies about his origins and claims to be a Natufian.
Kerry dangles the release of Pollard, but it is all non-commital.
Then Abbas gets the Arab League to issue and back his three noes:
the Palestinians will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, will not agree to any deal that does not make east Jerusalem the future Palestinian capital and will not give up the right of return.
And somehow, the NYTimes paints Israel as the guilty party.
What a failure.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Sunday) made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:
"In recent months the State of Israel has conducted negotiations with the Palestinians in order to reach a peace agreement. Israelis expect peace, a genuine peace, in which our vital national interests are assured, with security first and foremost. During these talks we carried out difficult steps and showed a willingness to continue implementing moves that were not easy, in the coming months as well, in order to create a framework that would allow for putting an end to the conflict between us. Just as we were about to enter into that framework for the continuation of the negotiations, Abu Mazen hastened to declare that he is not prepared even to discuss recognizing Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, which we have made clear to both the President of the United States and to other world leaders as well.^
To my regret as we reached the moment before agreeing on the continuation of the talks, the Palestinian leadership hastened to unilaterally request to accede to 14 international treaties. Thus the Palestinians substantially violated the understandings that were reached with American involvement. The Palestinians' threats to appeal to the UN will not affect us. The Palestinians have much to lose by this unilateral move. They will achieve a state only by direct negotiations, not by empty statements and not by unilateral moves. These will only push a peace agreement farther away and unilateral steps on their part will be met with unilateral steps on our part. We are ready to continue the talks but not at any price."