It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetically predictable.

In the last few weeks Palestinian Authority President Abbas has again refused to negotiate unless Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu makes huge concessions regarding borders in advance of negotiations.

Rockets specifically intended to kill and maim civilians continue to be fired from Gaza into Israel’s south. The “moderate” regime of President Abbas announced its intention to hang a Palestinian for selling his Hebron property to a Jew–a capital offense if there ever was one.

Apparently not to be outdone by Abbas’ government, Hamas, the half elected/half bloody coup rulers of Gaza, announced that they will begin public executions of “collaborators,” rapists, and murderers.

None of the above elicited a squeak from the international community. It is all just business as usual.

Then Israel made legal an action permitting three communities totaling 188 families that were originally approved about 10 years ago, and the response would have left Pavlov’s dogs in the dust. UN Secretary-General Ki-moon said that he was “troubled” by the action and that it went against the Quartet’s calls to refrain from “provocations.” And, of course, the U.S. government expressed its “concerns.”

Despite the fact that it is entirely natural for Jews to desire living in their ancestral homeland, I and many other Israelis would prefer that the Netanyahu government would not take these sorts of actions. We support compromise, even if it disturbs us that the Palestinians apparently intend that no Jew will be allowed to live in their proposed state.

These actions are simply easy pickins’ for those who love to attack Israel, and they help mislead many well-intentioned but ill-informed people about the reasons the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not been resolved. And the fact of the matter is that legalizing them will be meaningless if and when a peace deal is made.

The communities in the Sinai that Israel returned to Egypt in exchange for a peace deal were legal under Israeli law, as were the communities in Gaza and the northern West Bank from which the Sharon government unilaterally withdrew in the hopes of peace. When it came time to take steps for peace, whether as part of a deal or unilaterally, the legality of the communities was not an obstacle.

Having said that, can anyone in their right mind think that about 600 Jews living in an area that might become the Palestinian nation is the reason the dispute has not be resolved? As many critics of the government’s actions have said, these are the first “new” “settlements” “established” in a decade.

Moreover, several Israeli governments have offered virtually the entire West Bank in exchange for peace. And, yet, there has been no resolution of the conflict.

President Abbas will not negotiate unless he is guaranteed his terms before the negotiations. The two Palestinian governments that do exist seem to be in competition for the most crude and unfair executions. Rockets are fired at civilians on a daily basis.

None of this seems to cause much concern or attention in the UN or by anyone else in the media or officialdom.

But the legalization of the tiny communities of a few Jews who have been living in the legalized locations for several years focuses the world’s attention. That’s setting priorities.

About the Author
Alan Edelstein was a lawyer and lobbyist in California for 30 years. He currently lives in Jerusalem and Sacramento, California and consults on governmental affairs, communications, politics, and business development. He blogs at Inquiries regarding speaking engagements: