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Abbas (L) and Netanyahu (archives) Photo: AFP
Abbas (L) and Netanyahu (archives) Photo: AFP
 
 

Window is closing

Op-ed: Israel's failure to resume negotiations with moderate Palestinian leadership bolsters extremists

Dov Weisglass
Published: 02.02.13, 12:06 / Israel Opinion

As soon as the election results were announced, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he hoped the next government would be as broad as possible and deal mainly with the issues of equal share of the burden, the economic prosperity of the middle class and housing prices. He did not mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the escalating crisis between Israel and the international community, which is a direct result of the conflict. As far as he is concerned, there is no problem at all.

 

Netanyahu remains steadfast in his ways and continues to boast that he removed the Palestinian issue from the national agenda, but the problem still exists. It was recently reported that the new American secretary of state, John Kerry, has already announced his plans to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority - even before the next Israeli government is formed - to work towards jumpstarting the frozen peace negotiations. The French president and the British prime minister have also expressed their concern and noted the urgent need to resolve the conflict.

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At the same time, the window of opportunity is closing: The current PA leadership is significantly weaker – in part due to Israel's illogical policy – and its rule may end soon. Practical, moderate and realistic Palestinian leaders, such as Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who have displayed impressive capabilities in the fight against terror over the past few years, will soon be replaced by more extreme leaders. Thus, the likelihood of a reasonable agreement will be diminished. It may even become impossible.

 

As the PA gets weaker, Hamas grows stronger: The Palestinian street views the diplomatic stalemate as a failure of the PA, and the chances of inner-Palestinian reconciliation, which would likely see Hamas become an integral part of the leadership in Judea and Samaria, are increasing. If, God forbid, this should happen, the relative calm that has prevailed may be broken, and an all-out conflict would be a matter of time.

 

The international community is extremely concerned that regional violence will resume. The formula is well known: The escalating Palestinian terror will lead to an Israeli response, which, in turn, will enrage the Palestinian and Middle-Eastern public and send the masses to the streets. The moderate Arab regimes will be forced to respond: Egypt and Jordan may hurt the peace treaties, Turkey may become even more hostile toward Israel and the extremist Islam organizations, such as al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, will revel in the growing commotion and may completely shatter the last remnants of stability in the region.

 

Apart from a handful of right-wing activists, no one wants the current Palestinian leadership to collapse. But Israel's inaction is causing the world to become increasingly impatient and angry. The international community no longer believes that Israel wants a peace agreement and suspects that all it wants is to continue holding on to the conquered territories. In Europe, officials are openly discussing hostile diplomatic measures against Israel, and the president of the United States, who usually comes to our rescue, seems frustrated by Israel's position and has leveled harsh criticism at its prime minister. The entire world may really be against us, but this reality must be changed immediately.

 

The only way to avoid the aforementioned scenario is to renew the peace negotiations with the current PA leadership at once. The Yesh Atid party, which holds the key to the creation of the next coalition, must not make do with the agenda Netanyahu is proposing and condition its inclusion in the government on the resumption of negotiations aimed at reaching a peace agreement.

 

 

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