Monday, January 05, 2015

We Could Have Been in a Better Place

I am not the only one who can tell you that for decades I and friends have been emphasizing to diplomats, politicians, journalists and public personalities from abroad that the so-called 'peace process' cannot succeed if it is one-sided.

For example, if the theme is "territories for peace", what is the answer to the question that should be asked which is "what territories are the Arabs yielding up?" for after all, they initiated the violence that led to the Six Days war, and the violence that continues.  that war was one of self-defense.

In a conversation with a member of the UK Mideast peace team, the official Foreign Office unit, I suggested a decade ago that for every missile/rocket fired by Arabs from Gaza, they will be told by the EU and other supporters that they will lose 50 square meters of territory.  I told him that the Arabs always walk away from a negotiation situation and then demand to come back at the previous entry level whereas I would expect that they should be informed that everytime you withdraw from a round of talks, rejecting the framework and conditions, they should be punished and be forced to take a step back and have to renegotiate.

There are many other examples of this but what do we now read?  Dennis Ross in the NYTimes writes 

which includes these excerpts:

...Mahmoud Abbas, insists on using international institutions to pressure Israel, even after he was rebuffed in the United Nations Security Council...A European official I met recently expressed sympathy for the Palestinians’ pursuit of a Security Council resolution. I responded by saying that if he favors Palestinian statehood, it’s time to stop giving the Palestinians a pass. It is time to make it costly for them to focus on symbols rather than substance.

...Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice; its anticolonialist bent and its deep sense of grievance treats concessions to Israel as illegitimate. Compromise is portrayed as betrayal, and negotiations — which are by definition about mutual concessions — will inevitably force any Palestinian leader to challenge his people by making a politically costly decision.

...Resolutions are typically about what Israel must do and what Palestinians should get. If saying yes is costly and doing nothing isn’t, why should we expect the Palestinians to change course?  That’s why European leaders who fervently support Palestinian statehood must focus on how to raise the cost of saying no or not acting at all when there is an offer on the table. Palestinians care deeply about international support for their cause. If they knew they would be held accountable for being nonresponsive or rejecting a fair offer or resolution, it could well change their calculus.

...turning to the United Nations or the International Criminal Court during an Israeli election is counterproductive. It will be seen in Israel as a one-sided approach, and it will strengthen politicians who prefer the status quo....

...[a United Nations resolution]...must be balanced. It cannot simply address Palestinian needs by offering borders based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps and a capital in Arab East Jerusalem without offering something equally specific to Israel...In all likelihood the Palestinians would reject such a resolution. Accepting it would require compromises that they refused in 2000, 2008 and 2014...the Israelis are not the ones pushing for United Nations involvement. The Palestinians are. And if their approach is neither about two states nor peace, there ought to be a price for that.

Peace requires accountability on both sides...isn’t it time to demand the equivalent from the Palestinians on two states for two peoples, and on Israeli security? Isn’t it time to ask the Palestinians to respond to proposals and accept resolutions that address Israeli needs and not just their own?

I don't know if I could have wrote it better but I said it earlier, when it could have saved lives and situated Israel's public diplomacy in a better place.


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