Obstructionist Israeli Conditions for Peace

  • 24 August 2010

Even as both Palestinians and Israelis have agreed to carry out the US-sponsored direct negotiations in September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is placing obstructionist conditions prior to talks. He has affirmed that any agreement with Palestinians should be based on the recognition of the Jewish state of Israel and address satisfactory security measures for Tel Aviv. On the other hand, he refused to stop colony-building during the negotiations period and maintained that the freezing period for settlement activities will end on September 26. These actions blew up references for the peace process and led to the pre-determination of the direct negotiations’ agenda in compliance with the distorted Israeli vision for the settlement process. Even Arab League has expressed concern over the Israeli explanation of the basis for direct negotiations which will commence on the 2nd day of next month.

Palestinian President, Mahmood Abbas, wrote letters to the members of the Quartet Committee – the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia – demanding commitment to references set by the UN. He underlined the principles of the Madrid Conference, the Arab Peace Initiative and the agenda for negotiations including issues related to Jerusalem, borders, settlement, refugees, security, water and release of detainees within 12 months. This is a reflection of the concern over Israel’s intentions and that of its rightist Netanyahu government, which does not count peace among its priorities since it came to power and always tries to blame Palestinians for the failure of the peace process. Netanyahu passed the buck by claiming that he is going for talks in Washington with a real desire for an agreement and if the Palestinian side proves to be a partner in peace “we can promptly reach a historic agreement.”

Israel always stresses the need to negotiate without preconditions and based on mutual trust yet it always imposes its preconditions on Palestinians and destroys the opportunity to build confidence. The country’s persistence with colony-building activities even as negotiations are taking place confirms this. The Netanyahu government seems to believe that it has the right to set its own conditions as it wishes and override references that are not in agreement with these conditions. While no party has the right to impose its conditions, Israel tries to portray any confirmation to those references as an evidence of the lack of seriousness in working for peace and the non existence of a Palestinian partner in the quest for a settlement. Negotiations are a means to an end and not an end in itself and the way forward should be based on foundations that are respected by both the parties. Israel, however, works to set its own foundations and impose its arbitrary conditions. Under these circumstances no negotiations can lead to an agreement.