Both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships don’t want an agreement and cannot secure one. The suspicious are too existential, the leaderships are too week, the hostility is too great, and Obama is too fragile. Everyone understands that the president’s power shall be curbed within a month or so, after the US elections.
At the end of the day, it’s a blame game: That is, who will be embarrassed and charged with the failure of these odd negotiations, which have no past and no future.
Netanyahu was wrong to agree to a temporary construction freeze without getting anything in return. It’s odd, as he was the one who coined the famous reciprocity slogan in the 1990s: If they give something, they’ll get something in exchange; if they don’t give it, they won’t get it. Yet this time around he gave something, but got nothing for it.
Global leaders and the international and Israeli media are overjoyed: Netanyahu is in distress now and he will seemingly be blamed for the failure of the talks. However, it is so easy to resolve this temporary distress; after all, Netanyahu himself is the person who presented the formula in his first term in office.
The only thing that Israel needs to say is that it demands a parallel gesture from the Palestinian Authority and all Arab states, which stand behind Mahmoud Abbas and maneuver him.
Should an Arab gesture be granted, Israel would embark on another temporary freeze, yet if such gesture won’t be granted, the construction freeze won’t be extended. The Arab gesture would have to include a dimension of Arab symbolism, just like the freeze had a dimension of Israeli symbolism, and both these gestures must be temporary.
Summit in Jerusalem
A possible gesture is a festive summit that would see Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Mubarak, and Saudi King Abdullah arriving in Jerusalem. Why not? After all, this is a peace process, no? The Arab League, and especially Saudi Arabia, plays such dominant role in these talks, so how can they not meet? And what’s wrong with Jerusalem? We already saw meetings in Egypt, Jordan, and Washington. Can’t Arab leaders set foot in Israel?
An Arab gesture could also include elements of public normalization, or any symbolic recognition of Jewish nationalism. For example, inviting the Israeli prime minister to deliver a speech before the Arab League in Cairo. Why not? After all, we’re in the midst of a peace process.
And what about the anti-Semitic TV shows from the recent Ramadan holiday? Are they also part of the “peace process?” And what about anti-Israeli Arab proposals at international bodies; isn’t it time to withdraw them? Our Foreign Ministry can provide a long list of Arab proposals, which were prompted by the Palestinian Authority, of course.
Another gesture could be to pass a Lebanese law that would grant Palestinians in Lebanon civil rights. I’m not talking about citizenship, heaven forbid, but the basic right to live and work there. Lebanon is the most vicious state towards the Palestinians and does not grant these miserable souls the right to buy an apartment or work, yet the Arab world is silent, of course. The life of Palestinians in Gaza is much better than that of their “transparent” brethren in Lebanon.
There is such wide spectrum of symbolic gestures that Arab states, or even the Arab League, should adopt – yet they won’t be doing a thing. After all, they do not seek peace with Israel, but rather, they wish to weaken and embarrass it. Yet if they fail to undertake these gestures, they would take the blame. With their very conduct, the Arab sides would confirm that they do not seek peace.
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