Photo: AP
Mahmoud Abbas
Photo: AP
Ron Ben-Yishai

Cold peace better than nothing

Part 2 of analysis: A few Israeli concessions, gestures to Abbas enough to jumpstart peace talks

Unfortunately, Abbas' lack of faith in Netanyahu is justified. For example, Fayyad recently asked for some 4,000 Kalashnikov rifles for his security forces. Israel approved the request and it was agreed that Jordan would deliver the rifles. Jordan turned to Russia, which agreed to supply them. But then Israel began dragging its feet, and has apparently continued doing so to this day.


The same goes for the group of about 160 Palestinian prisoners who have been held by Israel since the pre-Oslo era. Netanyahu has promised to release them on several occasions as a gesture of good will to Abbas. He has yet to make good on this promise.


Sources who are familiar with the relations between Netanyahu and Abbas estimate that this lack of trust can be resolved with intense mediation efforts supported by Washington. In any case, it is worth a try. Any attempt to jumpstart the peace process will also boost Israel's image in the international arena and can be used to promote other Israeli interests related to the campaign against Iran's nuclear program.


The claim that the Palestinians will not dare launch a third intifada does not hold water either. Several top IDF and Shin Bet officials contend that this initifada has already been launched over the past few weeks amid the deterioration of the economic situation in the West Bank. Such an intifada may carry even more severe repercussions than the first two uprisings in light of the fact that Mubarak does not rule Egypt anymore. It is safe to assume that if the IDF will do what it must in order to quash the intifada, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will jump at the opportunity and cancel the peace treaty; either that or the street will force the Egyptian leadership to annul the agreement. Jordan will have no choice but to follow suit.


Clear signals 

True, the Palestinian Authority is riddled with corruption; it funds Hamas in Gaza and compensates released prisoners and families of "shahids (martyrs)." But when it comes to the Palestinian issue, Israel must be smart, and justice will eventually prevail.


The current situation proves that Israel must detach itself from the Palestinians and stop shouldering their economic and moral burden. Israelis who deal with the PA on a daily basis say the Jewish state is sitting on a volcano; the same volcano which claimed more than 1,000 Jewish lives not so many years ago.


Undoubtedly, a situation whereby we have an agreement with an independent Palestinian entity in Judea and Samaria is preferable to a situation in which we are directly responsible for the Palestinians' livelihood and bear the brunt of their religious fervor.


Even a "cold" and fragile peace, such as the one that exists between Israel and Egypt, is preferable to having direct control over the Palestinians. And it would certainly be better than our twisted relationship with the Hamas government in Gaza, which was established after we unilaterally withdrew from Gaza without an agreement.


It is better to deal with a sovereign political entity which could be pressured by the international community than to be fully or partially responsible for the Palestinian population. Therefore, it is no wonder that rumors are circulating within Israel's political establishment regarding the beginning of low-level direct talks with Hamas focusing on the military and diplomatic aspects of any future agreement.


The claim that Jews will never be a minority in Israel even if the territories are annexed because the birth rate in the Palestinian territories is declining should also be examined thoroughly, because if it is proven false, well, we're screwed. Then we will no longer be a free nation in our land but a minority, like the whites in South Africa.


The Israeli government's argument regarding the inability to reach an agreement as long as there are two separate Palestinian entities can also be refuted relatively easily. Jerusalem can sign an interim agreement or an agreement of principles with Abbas which will also apply to Gaza when the time comes.


Israel's leaders are receiving clear signals that the peace process can be renewed at the price of gestures and concessions that are considered reasonable by Netanyahu, and perhaps even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.


There are also signs that Israel and the PA can reach an agreement that would extract the Jewish state from its isolation in the international arena and help it garner support for the campaign against a nuclear Iran. But first Israel must awaken from the illusion, which sanctifies the status quo while threatening our existence as a Jewish and democratic state. This new concept may also result in another bloodbath.



פרסום ראשון: 10.01.12, 13:03
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