This is what President Shimon Peres said, which irritated Likud Beiteinu members and their brothers in Habayit Hayehudi party: The Arab peace initiative is a significant change and a strategic opportunity. He suggested that Abbas return to the negotiating table, and told him he would be surprised to learn how much could be achieved around such a table. He also reiterated the "two states for two people" principle, and declared that it was time for peace.
Not a single word about the 1967 borders, and certainly no binding promise for an agreement of any sort.
It happened during the World Economic Forum held in Jordan under the promising banner, "Breaking the Impasse," and what better way for us to break the impasse than return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians to discuss issues we have been troubled by for the past 100 years? That's all. No promise for an Israeli withdrawal, no declaration of an evacuation of isolated settlements, no call for the eviction of settlers and relocation of cemeteries.
But that didn't bother the Right's speakers, who always rush to cry out, for a reason and for no reason – to launch a counter-attack. Minister Yuval Steinitz said he did not recall anyone appointing President Peres as the government spokesman, as if without such an appointment the president cannot voice an opinion, which is greatly based on the current prime minister's Bar-Ilan speech.
Minister Uzi Landau evoked Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who at the time used the Holocaust to define the 1967 borders as the "borders of Auschwitz." As if these were not the borders we left from to the last war we won, the Six-Day War. But it's not me, said Minister Landau, it's Abba Eban, who he referred to as a "pure dove."
And Minister Naftali Bennett, who is about to recruit the entire IDF to operate Israel's seaports, outdid himself by ruling that as opposed to Shimon Peres, who did not say a single word about the 1967 borders, the majority of the public opposes such a withdrawal. It is unclear which data this intentionally comprehensive statement relies on.
Unnecessary oppositionPeres remained within the boundaries of consensus when he called, like many others, for the renewal of peace talks; when he spoke about an agreed solution; when he quoted Netanyahu's Bar-Ilan speech – two states for two people. Those who went beyond those boundaries are the opponents of all people.
This is a Pavlovian opposition, which is unnecessary even according to their own principles. Unnecessary, because the person doing their job is Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas, who proves time and again that he is indeed the best ally one could have asked for, the duplicated partner, the Siamese twin of the naysayers on the western side of the East Bank.
As they jump up he is already there, and even if there may be slight changes in the style, in the selection of excuses, in the wording of explanations, arguments and complaints – it's always the same melody. We won't accept temporary borders, he clarified in response to Peres' call, which, by the way, did not stop him or Peres from hugging and kissing – one on each cheek – during the multi-participant and dignified ceremony concluding the conference.
It's possible that Abbas doesn't believe there is a chance for such an agreement with Israel, and it's possible that Steinitz-Landau-Bennett don't believe there is a chance for any agreement with the Palestinians either, and it's possible that Peres is the last believer, or perhaps – the last dreamer. But what particularly troubles me is the fact that they, and not Peres, are the keynoters, the policy makers. They are the ones who will leave us stuck in this never-ending conflict, caught between the naysayers on both sides.