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Is Abbas Again Planning to Walk Away from Direct Negotiations?

donsutherland1

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In statements that may foreshadow an intent to withdraw from direct negotiations, the Palestinian government planted a landmine to talks in the form of a precondition for continuing talks: linking continuation of the talks to extension of Israel’s West Bank settlement construction pause, which is slated to expire on September 26. The Jerusalem Post reported:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the PLO Executive Committee to allow a one month trial period for direct peace negotiations with Israel before deciding what further action to take, Palestinian sources said, according to a Monday report in the London-based Arab language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

The appropriate time to raise such issues is during talks, not in advance of them. Moreover, the Palestinians may well need to offer some reciprocity to achieve their objective. The big question concerns whether the Palestinians are, rather than seeking to aggressively pursue negotiations, creating a framework for exiting the unconditional direct talks.

It should be noted that the U.S. invitation, for which little advance notice was given, was likely issued as a means to shatter the Palestinian boycott of direct negotiations. The invitation was issued to provide the Palestinian leadership with having to choose between two options: (1) Abandon its self-inflicted road block (preconditions) to direct talks or, (2) Risk offending the U.S. by rebuffing the invitation.

The first option would make the Palestinian leadership appear weak on account of its having to abandon its repeatedly expressed preconditions. The latter would risk creating an outcome under which the U.S. would downgrade its role in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. With Abbas recognizing that the latter scenario could have been more damaging for Palestinian interests and aspirations, he chose the first option, but perhaps only temporarily. In a bid to limit fresh perceptions of weakness, he resurrected one of his major preconditions, this time in a fashion that could blow up the talks.

Whether he is bluffing or not remains to be seen. But in the absence of reciprocity or some significant early progress in the direct talks that would give Israel incentive for making the unilateral concession Abbas is seeking, his new demand likely will not be achieved. If not, Abbas would see perceptions about his weakness reinforced if he maintains the direct talks—a self-inflicted wound given his making his precondition for continuing negotiations public—or terminating direct negotiations. The latter course, even if the Abbas government tries to pin blame on Israel, as it most certainly would attempt, could wind up leading the U.S. government to review its current willingness to play a highly active role in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Depending on its calculations, it could well take a lower profile and shift its diplomatic resources to other major problems e.g., issues concerning Iran. Israel, in the meantime, could have its worries about the lack of a viable partner for diplomacy renewed. Such a move could actually strengthen the hand of hardline elements within Israel’s government, undercutting prospects for moderation.

In stark contrast to Abbas’ threat, Israel has communicated a more appropriate message with respect to the start of negotiations, even as the challenges to a rapid agreement remain formidable. Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, "Reaching an agreement is a difficult challenge but is possible. We are coming to the talks with a genuine desire to reach a peace agreement between the two peoples that will protect Israel's national security interests, foremost of which is security,”

Hamas, remaining steadfast to its Charter, rejected the talks. The Hamas Charter declares, “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” The Islamic Jihad terrorist group also rejected the start of negotiations.

In sum, the early dynamics, not to mention substantial differences between the parties, suggest that a final settlement agreement within a year (Secretary Clinton’s goal) is not likely. Whether meaningful progress is made remains to be seen.
 

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Basically the Palestinians did not agree to the direct negotiations.
If they claim to quit once the freezing on the West Bank settlements' natural growth expires then frankly it's not that different from saying "no we don't want to talk".
 

Demon of Light

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In statements that may foreshadow an intent to withdraw from direct negotiations, the Palestinian government planted a landmine to talks in the form of a precondition for continuing talks: linking continuation of the talks to extension of Israel’s West Bank settlement construction pause, which is slated to expire on September 26. The Jerusalem Post reported:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the PLO Executive Committee to allow a one month trial period for direct peace negotiations with Israel before deciding what further action to take, Palestinian sources said, according to a Monday report in the London-based Arab language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

The appropriate time to raise such issues is during talks, not in advance of them. Moreover, the Palestinians may well need to offer some reciprocity to achieve their objective. The big question concerns whether the Palestinians are, rather than seeking to aggressively pursue negotiations, creating a framework for exiting the unconditional direct talks.

It should be noted that the U.S. invitation, for which little advance notice was given, was likely issued as a means to shatter the Palestinian boycott of direct negotiations. The invitation was issued to provide the Palestinian leadership with having to choose between two options: (1) Abandon its self-inflicted road block (preconditions) to direct talks or, (2) Risk offending the U.S. by rebuffing the invitation.

The first option would make the Palestinian leadership appear weak on account of its having to abandon its repeatedly expressed preconditions. The latter would risk creating an outcome under which the U.S. would downgrade its role in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. With Abbas recognizing that the latter scenario could have been more damaging for Palestinian interests and aspirations, he chose the first option, but perhaps only temporarily. In a bid to limit fresh perceptions of weakness, he resurrected one of his major preconditions, this time in a fashion that could blow up the talks.

Whether he is bluffing or not remains to be seen. But in the absence of reciprocity or some significant early progress in the direct talks that would give Israel incentive for making the unilateral concession Abbas is seeking, his new demand likely will not be achieved. If not, Abbas would see perceptions about his weakness reinforced if he maintains the direct talks—a self-inflicted wound given his making his precondition for continuing negotiations public—or terminating direct negotiations. The latter course, even if the Abbas government tries to pin blame on Israel, as it most certainly would attempt, could wind up leading the U.S. government to review its current willingness to play a highly active role in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Depending on its calculations, it could well take a lower profile and shift its diplomatic resources to other major problems e.g., issues concerning Iran. Israel, in the meantime, could have its worries about the lack of a viable partner for diplomacy renewed. Such a move could actually strengthen the hand of hardline elements within Israel’s government, undercutting prospects for moderation.

In stark contrast to Abbas’ threat, Israel has communicated a more appropriate message with respect to the start of negotiations, even as the challenges to a rapid agreement remain formidable. Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, "Reaching an agreement is a difficult challenge but is possible. We are coming to the talks with a genuine desire to reach a peace agreement between the two peoples that will protect Israel's national security interests, foremost of which is security,”

Hamas, remaining steadfast to its Charter, rejected the talks. The Hamas Charter declares, “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” The Islamic Jihad terrorist group also rejected the start of negotiations.

In sum, the early dynamics, not to mention substantial differences between the parties, suggest that a final settlement agreement within a year (Secretary Clinton’s goal) is not likely. Whether meaningful progress is made remains to be seen.

You know, in all your attacks on Abbas for setting one simple condition I had forgotten why things got worse. It was the election of the more hardline Likud party that has imperiled negotiations. Here is what Netanyahu has declared as his position, notably he expresses these as conditions for independence:

“The key condition is that the Palestinians recognise in a clear and public manner that Israel is the state of the Jewish people,” he told dignitaries in an auditorium at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. “If we have the guarantees on demilitarisation, and if the Palestinians recognise Israel as a state of the Jewish people, then we arrive at a solution based on a demilitarised Palestinian state alongside Israel,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“Each will have its flag, each will have its anthem. The Palestinian territory will be without arms, will not control airspace, will not be able to have arms enter.”

Source: The Times

He has clearly stuck to this position of a demilitarized state.

Then there is another point they will never concede:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel would never agree to withdraw from the Jordan Valley under any peace agreement signed with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Jordan Valley's strategic importance along the eastern border of the West Bank made it impossible for Israel to withdraw, according to a meeting participant.

Source: Haaretz

Netanyahu hasn't put forward conditions for talks, but he has made clear they have conditions for allowing independence and those conditions are that independence be nothing more than a symbolic gesture while Israel remains in complete control of the Palestinians. This is a considerable step back from even the Camp David plan that overwhelmingly favored Israel.

I am not surprised that Abbas is putting out conditions for even having talks or that he would consider abandoning them. Clearly Israel has no interest in a real compromise involving real independence.
 

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You know, in all your attacks on Abbas for setting one simple condition I had forgotten why things got worse. It was the election of the more hardline Likud party that has imperiled negotiations.

I strongly disagree, the Likud has proven to be more capable of promoting peace than say Kadima or Labour.
After all this condition brought up by the Palestinians would not even exist if it wasn't for the Likud's decision to freeze the natural growth of West Bank settlements for 10 months - a decision never to be made before.

Here is what Netanyahu has declared as his position, notably he expresses these as conditions for independence:



Source: The Times

He has clearly stuck to this position of a demilitarized state.

Then there is another point they will never concede:



Source: Haaretz

Netanyahu hasn't put forward conditions for talks, but he has made clear they have conditions for allowing independence and those conditions are that independence be nothing more than a symbolic gesture while Israel remains in complete control of the Palestinians. This is a considerable step back from even the Camp David plan that overwhelmingly favored Israel.

I am not surprised that Abbas is putting out conditions for even having talks or that he would consider abandoning them. Clearly Israel has no interest in a real compromise involving real independence.

Netanyahu doesn't condition his demands, unlike the Palestinians, and hence does not prevent the peace talks from advancing.
His terms are negotiable, unlike the Palestinians' preconditions which precede any kind of negotiations.

The Israeli taken action throughout Netanyahu's administration provides strong and substantial proofs that he is indeed interested in peace. The Palestinian continued conditioning of the peace talks point out quite clearly that they have no interest at all in even negotiating towards peace, and it seems like they'd do anything to refrain from engaging in peace talks.

I'm afraid that the mere reason behind those continued preconditions is the attempt to avoid peace talks and to avoid peace itself. They don't seem to show such a great interest in acheiving peace at all.
 
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donsutherland1

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Here is what Netanyahu has declared as his position, notably he expresses these as conditions for independence...

A number of points:

1) It was not the Likud Party nor Netanyahu government that broke off direct negotiations in 2008. It was the Abbas government. With the Abbas government having previously ended talks and its having engaged in a self-imposed boycott of direct negotiations, one cannot automatically dismiss its latest threat to blow up the negotiations.

2) Prime Minister Netanyahu is not using his stated objectives as a condition for starting talks or sustaining talks. He was describing what Israel seeks if an agreement is to be possible. Hence, they do not constitute a precondition. They are points that can and should be raised in the negotiations.

3) Prime Minister Netanyahu's positions are Israel's maximum demands. They are an opening position. Like the Palestinians, whose maximum demands include that Israel accept a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel and give the Palestinians East Jerusalem, Israel will also need to compromise if agreement is to be achieved.

4) Focusing strictly on Netanyahu's opening position, are there possible compromises that could accommodate Israel's core needs?

For example, on the issue of recognition, the Palestinian Authority could recognize Israel as being established as a state for the Jewish people. That narrower description would confirm that the Palestinians recognize the original intent behind Israel. Hence, the Palestinians could no longer argue that recognizing Israel as the Jewish State somehow disenfranchises Israel's non-Jewish population.

On the issue of the Jordan Valley, Israel might well be induced to accept a NATO presence or some combination of Jordanian-Israeli-Palestinian monitoring there, albeit with a transition toward that outcome.
 

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It was the election of the more hardline Likud party that has imperiled negotiations

Likud is a party who gave more area of land in a peace treaty than the area of Israel, west bank and the strip all together, the likud is the first party ever to dismantle settlements which were legal according to Israeli law and evacuate all of the Gaza strip from Israeli settlments. A very hardline indeed. I'm not a Likud voter, and I dislike most of the politicians in this party but one thing is sure, when this party is in power it is pragmatic and will not pass on a chance to promote a peace treaty even if it is absolutly conterdicts its elections platform and promises. Not only they will do this, they will do this easier than centerist or left wing parties such as Kadima and Labor because they will enjoy the support of the opposition when doing those moves and there will hardly be any real criticism.
 

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I strongly disagree, the Likud has proven to be more capable of promoting peace than say Kadima or Labour.
After all this condition brought up by the Palestinians would not even exist if it wasn't for the Likud's decision to freeze the natural growth of West Bank settlements for 10 months - a decision never to be made before.

That was primarily because it was demanded by the Palestinians in the first place and Obama pressured Israel into accepting it. Honestly, it just shows how minimal a sacrifice the demand really is in this case.

Netanyahu doesn't condition his demands, unlike the Palestinians, and hence does not prevent the peace talks from advancing.
His terms are negotiable, unlike the Palestinians' preconditions which precede any kind of negotiations.

Actually, he clearly states these are not negotiable. They are not preconditions for negotiations, but preconditions for independence.

The Israeli taken action throughout Netanyahu's administration provides strong and substantial proofs that he is indeed interested in peace. The Palestinian continued conditioning of the peace talks point out quite clearly that they have no interest at all in even negotiating towards peace, and it seems like they'd do anything to refrain from engaging in peace talks.

I'm afraid that the mere reason behind those continued preconditions is the attempt to avoid peace talks and to avoid peace itself. They don't seem to show such a great interest in acheiving peace at all.

What they don't show a great interest in is engaging in a fool's errand. When the other party makes it clear they have no interest whatsoever in real compromise it is hard to even find a reason to negotiate.

A number of points:

1) It was not the Likud Party nor Netanyahu government that broke off direct negotiations in 2008. It was the Abbas government. With the Abbas government having previously ended talks and its having engaged in a self-imposed boycott of direct negotiations, one cannot automatically dismiss its latest threat to blow up the negotiations.

Honestly, what talks were even going on in 2008? The process really stalled years ago and the failure to form a unity government for the Palestinians also inhibited this, especially since Israel was unwilling to accept any government that included Hamas.

2) Prime Minister Netanyahu is not using his stated objectives as a condition for starting talks or sustaining talks. He was describing what Israel seeks if an agreement is to be possible. Hence, they do not constitute a precondition. They are points that can and should be raised in the negotiations.

Once again, he says these are not matters for negotiation but conditions for independence. Entering into negotiations without conditions does not mean everything is up for discussion. The negotiations can involve conditions for an eventual result.

3) Prime Minister Netanyahu's positions are Israel's maximum demands. They are an opening position. Like the Palestinians, whose maximum demands include that Israel accept a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel and give the Palestinians East Jerusalem, Israel will also need to compromise if agreement is to be achieved.

If Netanyahu were interested in compromise he would be suggesting the past solutions they agreed to, as inadequate for the Palestinians as they may be, and make it clear these conditions were up for negotiation. What he has done instead is renege even on those promises and declared the positions to be resolute. Mind you, this was what he said after he gave up resisting the very idea of independence.

On the issue of the Jordan Valley, Israel might well be induced to accept a NATO presence or some combination of Jordanian-Israeli-Palestinian monitoring there, albeit with a transition toward that outcome.

Netanyahu hasn't said he might be willing to accept something else. He has said he will not withdraw from there period.

Likud is a party who gave more area of land in a peace treaty than the area of Israel, west bank and the strip all together, the likud is the first party ever to dismantle settlements which were legal according to Israeli law and evacuate all of the Gaza strip from Israeli settlments.

Kadima was created explicitly because of that plan for withdrawal. In essence what Likud is today is the hardline faction of Likud after the moderates formed Kadima. As far as the Camp David Accords this hardly means anything. Israel benefited far more from surrendering the Sinai Peninsula than it could have hoped by keeping it.
 

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A very hardline indeed. I'm not a Likud voter, and I dislike most of the politicians in this party but one thing is sure, when this party is in power it is pragmatic and will not pass on a chance to promote a peace treaty even if it is absolutly conterdicts its elections platform and promises.

I agree with you. Likud has demonstrated through concrete actions, not just words, that it governs pragmatically.
 

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Honestly, what talks were even going on in 2008? The process really stalled years ago and the failure to form a unity government for the Palestinians also inhibited this, especially since Israel was unwilling to accept any government that included Hamas.

In late 2008, the Palestinians were offered an initiative by then Prime Minister Olmert that exceeded the terms made possible under President Clinton's bridging proposal. Olmert, who was headed out of office, was almost desperate for a legacy-securing achievement.

Once again, he says these are not matters for negotiation but conditions for independence. Entering into negotiations without conditions does not mean everything is up for discussion. The negotiations can involve conditions for an eventual result.

Such language is often used when parties define their maximum demands. Parties posture before public opinion to appear as strong as possible. Yet, the concrete test is what happens during the negotiating process. If parties are serious about achieving agreement, they must accommodate one another's core needs. That requires compromise and some degree of retreat from maximum demands that are incompatible given the gaps that exist between the parties' positions.

If Netanyahu were interested in compromise he would be suggesting the past solutions they agreed to, as inadequate for the Palestinians as they may be, and make it clear these conditions were up for negotiation. What he has done instead is renege even on those promises and declared the positions to be resolute.

I don't agree. During late 2000 and again in late 2008, it was made abundantly clear to the Palestinians that the Clinton bridging proposal and Olmert initiative respectively were offers that were available at a specific point in time and that there was no guarantee that they would again be available if they were rejected. Indeed, if they were automatically available, the Palestinians could merely break off talks with little risk that there would be anything to lose. Hence, they could, over time, "shave the salami" so to speak, with each round of negotiations further whittling away Israel's interests. IMO, a reasonable deal that gives the Palestinians most of what they want is still attainable, but they will need to show some flexibility to secure that deal.

Netanyahu hasn't said he might be willing to accept something else. He has said he will not withdraw from there period.

Of course, it should be noted that during his previous tenure in office, Prime Minister Netanyahu took a similarly uncompromising public stand. Yet, he concluded the Hebron Agreement (1997). Concrete actions, not pre-negotiation posturing will determine his actual positions. If his past stint in office and past precedent from Likud governments is representative, Palestinian good faith, flexibility, and reciprocity will be met with Israeli pragmatism.
 

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In late 2008, the Palestinians were offered an initiative by then Prime Minister Olmert that exceeded the terms made possible under President Clinton's bridging proposal. Olmert, who was headed out of office, was almost desperate for a legacy-securing achievement.

I looked into that and ultimately all I can see is some talk of the land swap that may have involved part of East Jerusalem, or not, I'm not entirely clear on that. The land swap was apparently much closer to the 1:1 swap demanded. However, in essence it involved trading large populated areas that would cut deep into the West Bank and even break the territorial contiguity of the West Bank for largely uninhabited scraps of desert.

Anyone who thinks that trade fits the definition of "fair" should be shot for crimes against the English language. Most importantly I found one source saying this plan also demanded a demilitarized Palestinian state. It certainly is a greater compromise for the Palestinians than Israel, in that Israel would be essentially getting everything it wants for no real loss.

Such language is often used when parties define their maximum demands. Parties posture before public opinion to appear as strong as possible. Yet, the concrete test is what happens during the negotiating process. If parties are serious about achieving agreement, they must accommodate one another's core needs. That requires compromise and some degree of retreat from maximum demands that are incompatible given the gaps that exist between the parties' positions.

Well, even if that were the case, I am not convinced it is, that still represents a step all the way back to the initial 2000 demands, really even reneging on some of those promises, and no doubt they are reluctant to engage in talks when the other side is already backtracking.

I don't agree. During late 2000 and again in late 2008, it was made abundantly clear to the Palestinians that the Clinton bridging proposal and Olmert initiative respectively were offers that were available at a specific point in time and that there was no guarantee that they would again be available if they were rejected. Indeed, if they were automatically available, the Palestinians could merely break off talks with little risk that there would be anything to lose. Hence, they could, over time, "shave the salami" so to speak, with each round of negotiations further whittling away Israel's interests. IMO, a reasonable deal that gives the Palestinians most of what they want is still attainable, but they will need to show some flexibility to secure that deal.

Flexibility all at their expense and all to Israel's benefit. That is the problem my friend and why they are showing such reluctance for negotiations. If Israel expressed even just a willingness for further compromise on the 2000 parameters it could very well be enough to help move negotiations. Palestinian leaders have long ago accepted the idea of a land-swap, but they want it to be a fair and equal swap, not a situation where they get some of Israel's garbage in exchange for most of the West Bank's gold.

Of course, it should be noted that during his previous tenure in office, Prime Minister Netanyahu took a similarly uncompromising public stand. Yet, he concluded the Hebron Agreement (1997).

That was only agreeing to implement an earlier agreement by Rabin, and if that is the best example of compromise from him then prospects for compromise really are quite poor.

If his past stint in office and past precedent from Likud governments is representative, Palestinian good faith, flexibility, and reciprocity will be met with Israeli pragmatism.

Why are the Palestinians the only ones who need to exercise good faith?
 

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Kadima was created explicitly because of that plan for withdrawal. In essence what Likud is today is the hardline faction of Likud after the moderates formed Kadima. As far as the Camp David Accords this hardly means anything. Israel benefited far more from surrendering the Sinai Peninsula than it could have hoped by keeping it.

Actually no, Kadima drawn the political garbage from the Likud, all those with no real agenda who just want a role in the cabinet. Sharon had minor problems in the party's Knesset members, his problem was with the Party's center (- no supprise there). Today if we put Bibi aside, the Likud has very good politicians at its leadership like Gideon Saar and Gilad Ardan, those may sound like hardline politicians but I believe they are very pragmatic and will never stand aside when theres a chance to promote peace.
You have to understand that theres no real difference between Likud, Kadima and Labor when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the differences are much more obvious at the social - economic line of those parties.
 

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Why are the Palestinians the only ones who need to exercise good faith?

I never made any such suggestion. All parties in the talks need to exercise good faith. My point was that if the Palestinians show good faith, flexibility, and reciprocity, they will find that Israel will engage pragmatically.
 

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I never made any such suggestion. All parties in the talks need to exercise good faith. My point was that if the Palestinians show good faith, flexibility, and reciprocity, they will find that Israel will engage pragmatically.

The Palestinians have never exercised good faith in any negotiatons with Israel. Arafat did not, immediately upon returning from signing the Oslo agreements stating in Arabic that it was a sham, continuing to today with Abbas basically telling the PLO that this round is a sham as well.

If fool me once, shame on you, and fool me twice, shame on me, what about fooling me over and over and over again?
 

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I never made any such suggestion. All parties in the talks need to exercise good faith. My point was that if the Palestinians show good faith, flexibility, and reciprocity, they will find that Israel will engage pragmatically.

while i am inclined to believe you are wrong in this assessment, i absolutely hope that you are correct
time will tell ... we should know by this time next year
 

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You have to understand that theres no real difference between Likud, Kadima and Labor when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the differences are much more obvious at the social - economic line of those parties.

Well, they are all pretty much united in their oppression of the Palestinians, but there are sufficient differences to matter.

I never made any such suggestion. All parties in the talks need to exercise good faith. My point was that if the Palestinians show good faith, flexibility, and reciprocity, they will find that Israel will engage pragmatically.

Honestly, I think it is the other way around and Israel has failed to show good faith, but apparently for you bad faith from Israel is in fact good faith and good faith from the Palestinians is in fact bad faith. So wait are you going to respond to anything else I said?
 

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I looked into that and ultimately all I can see is some talk of the land swap that may have involved part of East Jerusalem, or not, I'm not entirely clear on that. The land swap was apparently much closer to the 1:1 swap demanded. However, in essence it involved trading large populated areas that would cut deep into the West Bank and even break the territorial contiguity of the West Bank for largely uninhabited scraps of desert.

Anyone who thinks that trade fits the definition of "fair" should be shot for crimes against the English language.

Sorry about the delayed reply, I needed to look for the newspaper piece that dealt with Abbas' rejection of the Olmert initiative. In May 2009, The Washington Post's, deputy editor Jackson Diehl summarized an interview he held with Mahmoud Abbas. The so-called "right of return," not territory, was his primary reason for rejecting the offer.

Some excerpts from Diehl's piece account follow:

...Olmert's peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton; it's almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further.

Abbas turned it down. "The gaps were wide," he said...

...Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession -- such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.


If Israel expressed even just a willingness for further compromise on the 2000 parameters it could very well be enough to help move negotiations. Palestinian leaders have long ago accepted the idea of a land-swap, but they want it to be a fair and equal swap, not a situation where they get some of Israel's garbage in exchange for most of the West Bank's gold.

Olmert went beyond the 2000 parameters. Whether the Palestinians will have a chance to realize terms more favorable than Olmert's offer remains to be seen. I doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu would accept any "right to return," much less any settlement of Palestinian refugees and their descendants within Israel, except maybe in a handful of instances where special circumstances are relevant.
 

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Sorry about the delayed reply, I needed to look for the newspaper piece that dealt with Abbas' rejection of the Olmert initiative. In May 2009, The Washington Post's, deputy editor Jackson Diehl summarized an interview he held with Mahmoud Abbas. The so-called "right of return," not territory, was his primary reason for rejecting the offer.

It doesn't say anything of the sort. While he rejected it, the article is not at all clear on why. I have read articles mentioning a number of issues including Jerusalem in reference to the "wide gaps" between them. At the same time it has been reiterated that no written proposal was actually submitted and outside of territory and the right of return there is scant information on exactly what was proposed. Even on territory the details are not entirely clear. One source, as I already mentioned, did mention the plan including a demilitarized state of Palestine, which is far from what the Palestinians have demanded and is really not even close to being a reasonable demand.

Also this "so-called right" is a part of international law. Not that Israel or its supporters actually care about something like that.

The source is informative in one sense, however. It seems to be saying Abbas is really just waiting out and hoping for conditions to change with regards to Netanyahu's hardline and Hamas.

Olmert went beyond the 2000 parameters. Whether the Palestinians will have a chance to realize terms more favorable than Olmert's offer remains to be seen.

Olmert essentially made a final offer and as you noted it was purely out of desperation. Even then it was hardly favorable towards the Palestinians. It was certainly grounds for continued negotiations, but demanding the Palestinians accept it is just absurd. What this does seem to reflect, however, is that the U.S. and Israel only ever show an interest in even approaching a real compromise when time is about to run out on any given administration that wants to secure some sort of victory.
 

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It doesn't say anything of the sort. While he rejected it, the article is not at all clear on why.

The piece provides enough information to point to the refugee issue. With respect to the "right of return," if Palestinians accept a general "right" of refugees and their descendants to move to the region in general and West Bank/Gaza Strip in particular, they would likely receive agreement. If, however, they argue that the "right" extends to Israel, Israel will not accept it. Aside from past precedent concerning dislocations subsequent to World War II, and the India-Pakistan partition, etc., Israel cannot be compelled to adopt a solution that destroys its integrity as a state for the Jewish people.

Olmert essentially made a final offer and as you noted it was purely out of desperation. Even then it was hardly favorable towards the Palestinians. It was certainly grounds for continued negotiations, but demanding the Palestinians accept it is just absurd. What this does seem to reflect, however, is that the U.S. and Israel only ever show an interest in even approaching a real compromise when time is about to run out on any given administration that wants to secure some sort of victory.

The Palestinians may well choose to roll the proverbial dice and try for something greater than what was offered. However, in doing so, they take the risk that they might pass up opportunities and wind up with less than they might otherwise have obtained. The Palestinians are not entitled to fulfillment of their maximum demands. My guess is that the Netanyahu government will offer something less than what Olmert had, though I could be mistaken.
 

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The piece provides enough information to point to the refugee issue. With respect to the "right of return," if Palestinians accept a general "right" of refugees and their descendants to move to the region in general and West Bank/Gaza Strip in particular, they would likely receive agreement. If, however, they argue that the "right" extends to Israel, Israel will not accept it. Aside from past precedent concerning dislocations subsequent to World War II, and the India-Pakistan partition, etc., Israel cannot be compelled to adopt a solution that destroys its integrity as a state for the Jewish people.



The Palestinians may well choose to roll the proverbial dice and try for something greater than what was offered. However, in doing so, they take the risk that they might pass up opportunities and wind up with less than they might otherwise have obtained. The Palestinians are not entitled to fulfillment of their maximum demands. My guess is that the Netanyahu government will offer something less than what Olmert had, though I could be mistaken.

It won't get that far. abbas is walking in looking for an excuse to walk out. He will latch onto anything that will do.

There is absolutely no evidence that the Palestinians are approaching this or have approached any other talks with anything that could remotely be considered good faith.
 

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The piece provides enough information to point to the refugee issue.

In other words you were bull****ting. Nowhere does it say or imply the refugee issue was the primary reason for its rejection and in fact the "right to return" seems to be one area where there is greater desire to compromise from the Palestinians. However, Israel has even refused the desire for compensation unless that compensation comes from other countries, which of course means it isn't compensation at all.

No, what I have read indicates there are a variety of issues and the "right of return" is just one of many and probably one of the least significant.

With respect to the "right of return," if Palestinians accept a general "right" of refugees and their descendants to move to the region in general and West Bank/Gaza Strip in particular, they would likely receive agreement. If, however, they argue that the "right" extends to Israel, Israel will not accept it. Aside from past precedent concerning dislocations subsequent to World War II, and the India-Pakistan partition, etc., Israel cannot be compelled to adopt a solution that destroys its integrity as a state for the Jewish people.

This is why you want to claim it is the "right of return" that the Palestinians refuse to compromise on because it goes along with the frequent claim that the Palestinians are only interested in a one-state solution that would bring with it a second Holocaust. Making it all about Jewish victimization minimizes the very real issue of the Israeli desire to be rewarded for aggression with international recognition and support, and more territory, while retaining the position of the Palestinians as a people subordinate to Israeli authority.

The Palestinians may well choose to roll the proverbial dice and try for something greater than what was offered. However, in doing so, they take the risk that they might pass up opportunities and wind up with less than they might otherwise have obtained. The Palestinians are not entitled to fulfillment of their maximum demands. My guess is that the Netanyahu government will offer something less than what Olmert had, though I could be mistaken.

I hope you are mistaken and that Netanyahu's comments really are just posturing, but if they aren't then there is no reason why Abbas should even entertain negotiations with his government. Until Netanyahu demonstrates willingness to allow a truly independent Palestine with the same amount of territory as the territories before 1967 there is little to no chance of Abbas or any Palestinian leader accepting an agreement.
 

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In other words you were bull****ting. Nowhere does it say or imply the refugee issue was the primary reason for its rejection and in fact the "right to return" seems to be one area where there is greater desire to compromise from the Palestinians. However, Israel has even refused the desire for compensation unless that compensation comes from other countries, which of course means it isn't compensation at all.

Consider it a wash for the compensation due to Israelis for their property whern they were ethnically clensed from Arab lands.

No, what I have read indicates there are a variety of issues and the "right of return" is just one of many and probably one of the least significant.

yuo can read whatever you like. The "right" of return is a purposely designed obstruction designed to prevent any remedy. if it wasn't, the Palestinians would have started telling their people it ain't gonna happen, rather than educating all of the fake refugees that it is their birthright and that they will "return" one day.

It is solely and entirely designed to block any agreement, and has consistently been used in that way by the Palestinians. Abbas did use it as an excuse, just like Palestinian leaders have always done, and I would expect nothing different this time if things get far enough (though he will scuttle talks on some manufactured or magnified excuse long before that becomes necessary).

This is why you want to claim it is the "right of return" that the Palestinians refuse to compromise on because it goes along with the frequent claim that the Palestinians are only interested in a one-state solution that would bring with it a second Holocaust.

which is the palestinian intention, and which would bring about that effect. The Palestinians want Israel, and they have done nothing to indicate otherwise. Their maps, their textbooks, their educational programs, their propaganda, everything is designed to support continued violence and "resistance" to pursue the "liberation" of Israeli cities. You can pretend that's not true all you like, but it makes you part of the problem rather than the solution.

I hope you are mistaken and that Netanyahu's comments really are just posturing, but if they aren't then there is no reason why Abbas should even entertain negotiations with his government. Until Netanyahu demonstrates willingness to allow a truly independent Palestine with the same amount of territory as the territories before 1967 there is little to no chance of Abbas or any Palestinian leader accepting an agreement.

there is not chance of Abbas accepting anything the Israelis offer. But not because of anything Netanyahu says or doesn't say, offers or doesn't offer. There is no chance because Abbas has zero interest in an end of conflict.
 

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In other words you were bull****ting. Nowhere does it say or imply the refugee issue was the primary reason for its rejection and in fact the "right to return" seems to be one area where there is greater desire to compromise from the Palestinians.

That's utter nonsense. The article states:

...Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession -- such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.

There's nothing technical or ambiguous about that. It is clear and concise.

This is why you want to claim it is the "right of return" that the Palestinians refuse to compromise on because it goes along with the frequent claim that the Palestinians are only interested in a one-state solution that would bring with it a second Holocaust. Making it all about Jewish victimization minimizes the very real issue of the Israeli desire to be rewarded for aggression with international recognition and support, and more territory, while retaining the position of the Palestinians as a people subordinate to Israeli authority.

Again, that's far-fetched. The reason Israel cannot and will not accept a "right of return" of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel is not complex. The issue is related to the original intent of Israel's re-establishment, that Israel be a state for the Jewish people. Hence, large-scale demographic change that would undermine the integrity of that intent is not acceptable to Israel.

Until Netanyahu demonstrates willingness to allow a truly independent Palestine with the same amount of territory as the territories before 1967 there is little to no chance of Abbas or any Palestinian leader accepting an agreement.

The extent of territory will have to be negotiated. In all likelihood, the Palestinians can probably count on receiving something in the vicinity of 95% +/- a few percentage points of the pre-1967 war territory. If the Palestinians feel that 95% is insufficient, then they can refuse the offer. However, if they refuse the offer, they cannot be sure that a future offer will be more generous. It might well be less. As noted previously, I don't believe Prime Minister Netanyahu will offer the Palestinians as much as Prime Minister Olmert did. Hence, by passing up that opportunity, the Palestinians might well wind up somewhat worse off than they would have been had they accepted Prime Minister Olmert's offer. Then again, no matter what the arrangement is, the Palestinians will certainly wind up worse off than if the Arabs had accepted the 1947 partition plan and had they not launched the 1948 war against the then newly re-established Israel.
 

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Consider it a wash for the compensation due to Israelis for their property whern they were ethnically clensed from Arab lands.

The Palestinians are not responsible for what other Arab countries may have done, most in fact tried to keep Jews from leaving and many of those Jews left voluntarily or at the urging of Israel.

yuo can read whatever you like. The "right" of return is a purposely designed obstruction designed to prevent any remedy. if it wasn't, the Palestinians would have started telling their people it ain't gonna happen, rather than educating all of the fake refugees that it is their birthright and that they will "return" one day.

It is solely and entirely designed to block any agreement, and has consistently been used in that way by the Palestinians. Abbas did use it as an excuse, just like Palestinian leaders have always done, and I would expect nothing different this time if things get far enough (though he will scuttle talks on some manufactured or magnified excuse long before that becomes necessary).


which is the palestinian intention, and which would bring about that effect. The Palestinians want Israel, and they have done nothing to indicate otherwise. Their maps, their textbooks, their educational programs, their propaganda, everything is designed to support continued violence and "resistance" to pursue the "liberation" of Israeli cities. You can pretend that's not true all you like, but it makes you part of the problem rather than the solution.


there is not chance of Abbas accepting anything the Israelis offer. But not because of anything Netanyahu says or doesn't say, offers or doesn't offer. There is no chance because Abbas has zero interest in an end of conflict.

Yeah, um, no. What we know for a fact is that the Palestinian leadership have been willing to accept that most of the Palestinians will not be resettled in their old areas and agreeing with Israel on limiting how many can return. As I said they would also be quite happy to accept compensation, but Israel has refused to fork much, if any, money to any Palestinian.

That's utter nonsense. The article states:

...Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession -- such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.

There's nothing technical or ambiguous about that. It is clear and concise.

Actually it is not clear at all because that is not a direct quote or even said to be a summary of what he said. We don't know if the reporter is expressing an opinion on why Abbas said something, paraphrasing, or even if it has any connection at all to anything Abbas said. It certainly is not said in the article that it had any connection at all to Olmert's 2008 proposal, that was purely your made-up interpretation.

Again, that's far-fetched. The reason Israel cannot and will not accept a "right of return" of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel is not complex. The issue is related to the original intent of Israel's re-establishment, that Israel be a state for the Jewish people. Hence, large-scale demographic change that would undermine the integrity of that intent is not acceptable to Israel.

I am not saying anything about why Israel is against the right of return, but rather why you are insisting that it was the deal breaker rather than any of the countless other issues that are honestly far more serious for the Palestinian leaders. Suggesting that the Palestinians refuse to allow anything short of rendering the Jews a minority in Israel, given your other comments on what you felt were the likely consequences of such an act, makes it clear your made-up excuses for Israel in the failure of the 2008 proposal is just an attempt at justifying the old "the Palestinians just want to kill all the Jews because they hate Jews for no good reason" excuse Israel and its supporters use to justify its aggression.

The extent of territory will have to be negotiated. In all likelihood, the Palestinians can probably count on receiving something in the vicinity of 95% +/- a few percentage points of the pre-1967 war territory. If the Palestinians feel that 95% is insufficient, then they can refuse the offer. However, if they refuse the offer, they cannot be sure that a future offer will be more generous. It might well be less. As noted previously, I don't believe Prime Minister Netanyahu will offer the Palestinians as much as Prime Minister Olmert did. Hence, by passing up that opportunity, the Palestinians might well wind up somewhat worse off than they would have been had they accepted Prime Minister Olmert's offer. Then again, no matter what the arrangement is, the Palestinians will certainly wind up worse off than if the Arabs had accepted the 1947 partition plan and had they not launched the 1948 war against the then newly re-established Israel.

You just trot out the old bullet points from the Zionist Handbook on Apologetics every time don't you? Everything is the fault of the Palestinians, Israel does no wrong, all Jews wanted to do is live in peace but the barbaric Arabs just won't tolerate Jews living anywhere near them because they hate Jews for no good reason. This blatant philosemitism just annoys the hell out of me.

Settlement in the West Bank exploded after Arafat endorsed a plan that would involve establishing a government on the West Bank and Gaza. In other words, after the Palestinians showed a clear desire for compromise Israel immediately went about sabotaging any chance of compromise leading to the current state with the settlements.

You call endorsing this aggression by rewarding those territories to them "compromise" and still have the audacity to blame the Palestinians for rejecting it.

If the roles were reversed you'd be fighting tooth-and-nail against any "compromise" of a similar nature because it is simply not about an objective interest in a reasonable diplomatic solution, but about getting exactly what Israel wants and insuring the Palestinians get next to nothing that they want.
 

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You just trot out the old bullet points from the Zionist Handbook on Apologetics every time don't you? Everything is the fault of the Palestinians, Israel does no wrong, all Jews wanted to do is live in peace but the barbaric Arabs just won't tolerate Jews living anywhere near them because they hate Jews for no good reason. This blatant philosemitism just annoys the hell out of me.

As had been stated in the message to which you responded, no matter what the arrangement is, the Palestinians will certainly wind up worse off than if the Arabs had accepted the 1947 partition plan and had they not launched the 1948 war against the then newly re-established Israel.

Even if one totally avoids the history of how things got where they are, the reality is not changed. The Palestinians cannot expect to receive as much land as would have been given to the Arabs under the 1947 partition plan. The on-the-ground situation has changed. The Palestinians do not possess the power to impose such a solution. With Egypt and Jordan at peace with Israel and Lebanon and Syria weaker than Israel, a new Arab invastion to try to bring about such an outcome is also unlikely and, if it did occur, would be turned back. The international community is also not supporting such an outcome. Hence, such an outcome is extremely remote. If you believe otherwise, I would be interested in knowing what driver or drivers you think would produce such an outcome.
 

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...Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession -- such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.

"Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state" is a somewhat tricky phrase if that is what it implies. At first hearing, it sounds like it means simply recognizing Israel's right to exist. If it also means recognizing the right, or rather the necessity, of denying remedies to non-Jews on the basis of their ethnicity, that would seem to be a whole other notion. Regardless of one's position on the right of return, it complicates any discussion of Israel's right to exist and the Palestinians' refusal to recognize it.
 
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