Preventing Israel From Manipulating Time Factor

  • 6 September 2010

Israel is adept at manipulating the time factor before peace talks with Palestinians and deliberately overrides them by creating problems. This creates obstacles in the process besides having serious ramifications on the core issue. Despite agreement on the 12-month time schedule for direct negotiations between the two sides – that started in Washington on September 2 – Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has not given up on his attempts to waste time and draw the negotiations process out of its scheduled timetable. The evidence of this procrastination was revealed by Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat recently when he said that Netanyahu has submitted a proposal to the Palestinians to form 12 Palestinian-Israeli Committees responsible for discussing the different aspects of the negotiations process. The Palestinian side refused this proposal because it reflected a desire on the part of Israelis to delay and waste time.

The Israeli side wants to start talks from scratch despite the long years of negotiations that have taken place between the two sides since Madrid Conference and Oslo Accord. That is the idea behind the 12 committees’ proposal as well. The Palestinian side insists on beginning from the point at which talks broke down during former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmet’s reign. There is no doubt that Palestinian persistence on the time table, and the assurance given by major powers on this issue, puts Israel under pressure and it tries to circumvent the issue. However, this time the world powers should not let Israel disrupt negotiations, impose its own logic and evade its commitments. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in Washington might be the last chance to end the conflict and that time is running out for either side to achieve peace and security.

When the Secretary of State issues such statements the important question that arises is the following: Does the Israeli government see negotiation as the only route to settlement and ending the conflict? Is it making efforts to liquidate the Palestinian cause by imposing fait accompli and changing conditions on the ground to suit this strategy? Is the only aim of negotiations process for Israel is to gain more time so that it completes its plans? Unless the will for real peace emerges in the minds of the Israeli leadership it will be difficult to reach a settlement. The most important indicator of this will is building confidence in the Palestinian side, complying with the previously agreed peace references and abandoning unilateral action during the negotiation process, on top of which are the settlement activities.