This past week, Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator said the majority of the Israelis want peace based on the 1967 lines but Netanyahu is the one who does not support this solution. However, here is a key question for Mr. Erakat: what about the Palestinians? Do you want peace based on the 1967 lines?
I would argue that neither the Palestinians nor Mr. Erakat (or Mr. Abbas, for that matter) want peace as much as the Israelis do. Otherwise, how can one explain that there’s no Palestinian Peace Now movement, or a Palestinian Voice for Peace, or American Palestinians for Peace, the same way we see the very vocal corresponding Jewish organizations?
What about you, Mr. Erakat? Do you really want peace based on the 1967 lines? Why didn’t you or Mr. Abbas respond to Mr. Netanyahu’s invitation to sit and negotiate without preconditions, when he spoke at the United Nations and at the US Congress? Could it be because such a meeting would not only test Mr. Netanyahu’s willingness to make concessions for peace, but yours as well?
Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders know the basic frame of reference for a peace agreement. In addition to all the plans offered by Rabin, Barak and Olmert and rejected by the Palestinians, in a poll published by the S. Abraham Center for Middle East Peace last December, the principles of a hypothetical agreement accepted by 67% of the Israelis included:
- Two states: Israel the state of the Jewish people and Palestine the state of the Palestinian people.
- Palestinian refugees will have a right to return only to the new state of Palestine.
- The Palestinian state will be demilitarized, without an army.
- Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem will come under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian sovereignty.
- The Old City within the walls will be without sovereignty and will be jointly administered by the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. The Holy Places will be under the same religious supervision as current arrangements (for example, the Western Wall will be under Israeli supervision and responsibility).
- Borders will be based on the 1967 lines and will include land swaps equal in size that will take into consideration Israel’s security needs and will maintain the large settlement blocs under Israeli sovereignty.
Here is where the problem resides: while the Israelis want peace and have been prepared for concessions in exchange for peace, the same is not happening on the Palestinian side. I am not the only one saying this. Just read what Salam Fayyad said two weeks ago: “the Palestinians’ story is a story of failed leadership…we hold ourselves hostage to our own rhetoric”.
So, Mr. Erakat, go on, take Mr. Netanyahu by his word and test him… but get ready to be tested as well.
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