Israeli rightists and those echoing their formulations are fond of saying about the Palestinians: “There is no partner for peace.” Well, now the Palestinians can legitimately say the same about the current Israeli government. Haaretz today reveals that Bibi Netanyahu, in George Mitchell’s latest round of proximity talks, rejected a framework for direct negotiations that would have Israel affirm that 1967 borders would be the basis for such talks:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday rejected a Palestinian demand that direct negotiations be based on a statement by the Quartet confirming its position that the future Palestinian state will be based on the 1967 borders.
Meeting in Jerusalem with U.S. envoy George Mitchell, Netanyahu repeated his demand for the renewal of direct talks without preconditions.
…Senior officials in Jerusalem who are involved in the efforts to renew direct peace talks said yesterday that Abbas’ latest formula was unacceptable to Netanyahu because it sought to impose preconditions that the Israeli public would oppose.
…After Netanyahu’s rejection, it appears that Mitchell’s latest visit to the region has ended in failure.
Affirming 1967 borders would be little more than a reformulation of every major peace proposal going back ten years from the Clinton and Taba talks to the Arab League proposal to the Quartet. Bibi’s rejection sends Israel-Palestine relations into total disarray and renders Mitchell’s work moot. And there certainly is now no Israeli partner.
It’s laughable that only 24 hours ago the N.Y. Times editorial board hectored Mahmoud Abbas about his refusal to enter into such talks with Israel. The Grey Lady warned Abbas that Obama was the best president for the Palestinians’ purposes he was every likely to get, and that Obama’s patience would wear thin. All empty threats and rhetoric. The fact of the matter is that Israel’s position, as evidenced by Bibi’s “No” less than a day later, renders negotiations moot. No serious Palestinian leader should or would be able to risk their position for the empty chalice offered by Israel and the U.S. It would make them a laughingstock in the Palestinian street, and rightly so.
But let’s make no mistake: failure of peace talks does not bring a maintenance of the status quo as Bibi assumes. It gives freedom of movement to all the gremlins who wish to work their mischief including radical settlers, Al Qaeda, radical Palestinian militant groups, Hezbollah, etc. There are elements too within the IDF and Israeli political echelon who’d nothing more than a good war to occupy themselves and take the world’s eye off the Occupation and Palestinian suffering. There are any rumblings above and below the surface that an imminent attack on Iran may be such a diversion.
So yes, there will be another war, and sooner rather than later. And during that war or sometime after, Barack Obama and his advisors will scramble to try to pick up the pieces and get things back to status quo ante. But that won’t work either since Obama is an incrementalist in a region where radical reform is needed to shake up people and nations who’ve been far too complacent for far too long.
So here’s my formula put in the most graphic terms possible: status quo=death. Any person or party who maneuvers to maintain the status quo and stands in the way of progress as Bibi has done, will sow the seeds of despair and reap death as their harvest.