My posting yesterday was so grim — and prompted such deservedly pessimistic responses from readers — that I thought it important to share this perspective, newly acquired, that offers a measure of hope.
It seems our government, while feeling coerced by direct or implicit pressure to play the diplomatic game of “proximity negotiations,” does not intend to do so passively. It seems it’s going to come out fighting, within the confines of that game. This can make a huge difference.
There are two respects in which I see this happening:
First, there is the matter of core issues, which we agreed to discuss in the indirect talks even though we had originally indicated a preference for core issue discussion only face-to-face.
Now the question is what “core issue” do the talks begin with. The Palestinian Arabs want it to be the issue of borders. You know, like in: Israel moves back to ’67 lines first, and then we can discuss other things.
No, no, Netanyahu is saying, we’ve got to talk about security arrangements in Judea and Samaria, and water rights first.
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu recently asked the defense establishment and the National Security Council to further elaborate upon a previous brief that lists Israel’s security demands in terms of a permanent status agreement. The original document included conditions regarding Israeli monitoring of Palestinian border terminals, freedom of Israeli aviation in Palestinian airspace, Israeli control of the electromagnetic spectrum and early warning stations in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu wants to add to this detailed information regarding the demilitarization of any future Palestinian state and the deployment of Israeli forces on its eastern border to prevent weapons smuggling.
They’re going to love this.
I add here that Netanyahu, it is being said, intends to keep the negotiating team small to prevent leaks.
Of considerable significance with regard to the talks is a press conference that Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon held this morning with director of the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Itamar Marcus. Israel, said Ayalon, had agreed to starting proximity talks with no pre-conditions. But Israel does have “logical and moral demands” concerning the ongoing anti-Israel incitement that is rampant in the PA-controlled areas.
It’s about time! This is a huge issue that has not been exposed sufficiently. Now, it was announced, PMW will have a new campaign to publicize the PA incitement, which exists in all levels of the Palestinian Arab society.
A new TV ad that was produced by PMW and has been shown on CNN and Fox News was screened at the press conference. It makes note of the fact that the Obama administration has condemned glorification of terrorists, and then goes on to show the ways in which the PA continues to glorify them.
“If terrorist are glorified,” asks the narrator, “how can there be peace?”
Said Marcus, “This glorification of terrorists is the ultimate incitement, putting its stamp of approval on these terrorists and telling the children: ‘Here are your heroes.’ We are now starting this campaign in order that the peace process can be genuine and not go nowhere just because the hatred continues so strongly.”
Ayalon indicated that the findings of the PMW would be put on the negotiating table.
Continued Marcus, “I think it’s critical… This will give the Israel government an opportunity to put these issues in front of the Palestinians in a very public way, and hopefully, with the world’s attention and that of the U.S. government, the Palestinians will stop this incitement.”
Stop? I don’t know about that. What I do know is that this puts the PA on the defensive, big time. Every single agreement, starting with Oslo. called for the complete elimination of incitement. The PA charges us with destroying opportunities for peace because we plan housing, while at the very same time it is inciting its people to acts of violence. This puts the shoe on the other foot.
And since many people are not aware of what the PA is doing in this regard, it will affect public opinion as well.
A most significant point is this: As Marcus explained, “There cannot be such glorification of terrorists without a large infrastructure of hatred behind it.”
Israel is being demonized and the right of Israel to exist is being delegitimized. The PA claims that the violence from its people is simply a reaction to the illegitimate presence of Israel, a defensive “resistance.” But when it becomes clear that the violence is actually promoted and initiated by the leaders of the PA, this argument is deflected.
I would hope, as well, that this might take just a bit of the wind out of Obama’s pro-Palestinian stance.
All too well do I remember the recent faux hysteria we saw because we announced plans to build in Ramat Shlomo while Biden was here, while at the same time there was American silence while the PA was honoring the worst of terrorists. But it becomes impossible to ignore this incitement once it is exposed publicly in a truly vigorous fashion.
Neither can Obama charge Israel with being obstructive within the “peace process” for raising this issue, for it is very much to the point with regard to genuine peace, and something the president is on record as being concerned about.
If we play our cards right, this might hold up a good deal. As well it should.
Ayalon concluded with, “True peace must be built on a foundation of trust between the parties. The continuation of incitement on the part of the Palestinians will not help build trust and understanding between us. Therefore, before the start of the talks, the PA must decide if it is a partner for true peace and stop the ongoing incitement and boycotts against Israel.”
This is not a PR gimmick, this is very very real, and very much to the point. Asking us to make peace with an entity that incites against us is ludicrous.
About those boycotts referred to by Ayalon:
Some months ago the PA made a decision to boycott all goods, agricultural and otherwise, produced in the communities of Judea and Samaria. They also decided to prevent Palestinians Arabs from working on construction in Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.
When this happened, Dr. Aaron Lerner did some research and discovered that this action is in defiance of the Oslo Accords. ANNEX IV Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of the State of Israel and the P.L.O., representing the Palestinian people Paris, April 29, 1994 of the Gaza Jericho Agreement states:
#1. ” The agricultural produce of both sides will have free and unrestricted access to each others’ markets”
#2. “There will be free movement of industrial goods free of any restrictions”
#3. As for labor, the agreement enables the PA to independently limit the flow of Israeli workers into the area under the control of the PA but not the flow of Palestinian workers out while calling for the sides to “attempt to maintain the normality of movement of labor.”
The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee has just held its second hearing on the matter of the boycott. It called for the prime minister to raise the issue immediately when the talks begin. The demand will be that the PA stop the boycott with the initiation of the talks.
Said Danny Ayalon, who was at the hearing, “If the boycott continues, it may damage the progress of the talks…”
A variety of measures are being considered to combat this boycott, beyond raising the issue at the talks, such as blocking Palestinian use of Israeli ports for importing goods.
I can hear Obama mumbling… “Damn, I finally pushed the Palestinians to the talks. And now the Israelis are going to raise all these issues that will put them on the defensive and make it harder to get them to cooperate.”
Coming soon: The good news about the Second San Remo Conference.
I reported yesterday that, while there were rumors that Obama had threatened to stop supporting us via veto of anti-Israeli resolutions at the UN Security Council, a US official had claimed this was not so.
Now I have this further clarification: According to two different sources, what the US did to bring the PA on board for negotiations is promise to consider abstaining if there were a resolution brought to the Security Council condemning our building in Ramat Shlomo. But at the same time the US would continue to veto broader condemnations of Israel.
This is not good, needless to say. But parenthetically I note that if this is what was promised — that maybe the US wouldn’t block a UN condemnation of building in Ramat Shlomo — then perhaps the claim by the PA that the US promised that we would stop building in eastern Jerusalem was, indeed, no more than its own spin. I would guess this to be the case at this point.