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Kerry (L) and Abbas (archives) Photo: EPA
Kerry (L) and Abbas (archives) Photo: EPA
 
 

Two can play precondition game

Op-ed: If Palestinians are going to insist on preconditions, why can’t Israel set some of its own?

Dan Calic
Published: 07.13.13, 10:49 / Israel Opinion

To date the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry have failed to produce an agreement leading to resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In spite of comments such as “real progress has been made,” the refusal of the Palestinians to abandon their preconditions remains the major obstacle preventing a breakthrough.

 

The Palestinians demand Israel stop all home construction on land they claim as their state. Israel must also relinquish all territory under their authority since being forced to fight a defensive war in 1967. This includes eastern Jerusalem which is the holiest place on earth for the Jewish people. Plus, numerous Palestinians must be released from prison, many of whom have blood on their hands.

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For his part Mahmoud Abbas continues to reaffirm his commitment to preconditions. In an interview published recently in Al-Hayat, referring to ’67 borders, he said “we consider any settlement after 1967 illegal.” Regarding Jerusalem he said “….if it is not the capital of Palestine, there will be no solution.”

 

If the Palestinians are going to insist on preconditions, why can’t Israel have some of its own? C’mon, what’s fair is fair, right?

 

Thus, Mr. Abbas I submit the following preconditions which must be met before Israel is willing to sit face to face with you:

 

The first and most important precondition is for you to drop all your preconditions, period. Such demands are incongruous with all known acceptable protocol of good faith negotiations and promote a disingenuous agenda. Both sides should come to the table equally balanced without preconditions, prepared to negotiate all issues.

 

However, if you insist on sticking to your preconditions, I invite you to entertain Israel’s list. They are intended to render negotiations meaningless, which is precisely what your goal appears to be.

 

For starters you must accept Israel’s right to exist as the sovereign national homeland of the Jewish people. Israeli leaders have repeatedly acknowledged their commitment to a Palestinian state, and two states for two peoples. The least you could do is reciprocate by accepting Israel’s right to exist.

 

Next, stop telling your Arab brethren taking Jerusalem away from Israel is an “Islamic obligation.” Would you expect Saudi Arabia to give Mecca or Medina away? If Muslims are allowed to have their two holiest cities, why can’t the Jews have the one city which has been the center of Jewish life for 4,000 years? In case you forgot, Jerusalem’s existence as such predates Islam by 2,700 years. However you don’t seem to allow facts to alter your agenda.

 

Additionally, please contact the various terrorists groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, Hezbollah, PLO, plus your own group Fatah, and have all the language removed from their respective charters requiring the destruction of Israel and elimination of the Jewish people. I realize you may not be able to convince the other groups to make this potentially humiliating gesture. However, forgive me for suggesting that Israel’s leaders might be just a little skeptical of your sincerity when the founding charter of the political part of which you are head, requires the destruction of the country you claim to want peace with.

 

Let’s move to the websites of these same groups. Each of them, including your Fatah party show Palestine covering the entire area of land Israel rests upon. How about suggesting the webmasters do a little editing to reflect Israel in fact does exist? The entire world is aware of this, so having these websites reflect reality would demonstrate a pragmatic approach to coexistence…. if this is indeed something you favor.

 

It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to stop naming parks and other public places after terrorists who murdered innocent Israeli civilians. Maybe it hasn’t occurred to you that glorifying murderers by calling them “heroes” and “martyrs” gives the average Israeli the impression you consider every one of them a legitimate target. That’s not exactly the type of message someone claiming to want coexistence should be sending.

 

Once all these preconditions have been met, it will create a balanced atmosphere at the negotiating table between you and Israel. Oh, did I mention if either side agrees to the other’s preconditions, there won’t be much point of coming to the negotiating table? However, since your preconditions are designed to prevent actual negotiations you seem to know this already.

 

A final thought: One of the reasons Israel should have its own list of preconditions is it may prove to be an effective way of demonstrating the absurdity of your preconditions. Mr. Abbas, You may get so frustrated it could cause you to drop your preconditions and meet without them. Then again I ask myself what are the odds this might happen? Is the moon made of cheese?

 

Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page

 

 

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