I cannot find a more appropriate word for my response to what happened in Washington yesterday. Shabbat preparations prevent me from exploring this in any detail now. I will provide here only a broad overview, with more to come in due course.
Still, I believe that Netanyahu believes that these negotiations are going to come to nothing.
It’s possible that I’m wrong. There are those who think that he is sincere in his quest for “peace.” Take, for example, JPost editor David Horovitz. He wrote in his column today, “The heart says do anything for peace. The head worries that Netanyahu’s admirable goal of finding, in Abbas, a new Sadat, will prove elusive.”
I had to rub my eyes when I read that, and read it again, so incredible did it seem to me. Horovitz finds it “admirable” that Netanyahu is presumably seeking to find a new Sadat in Abbas? Are we talking about the same Abbas? The one who had to be dragged to the table kicking and screaming? Never mind the idea of doing “anything” for peace.
There is also a glimmer of “hope” from Kadima, whose members (most notably Mofaz) are just beginning to suggest that if Netanyahu is “sincere” about making peace, they might join the coalition. Heaven help us.
And yet, I’ll hold tight to what my gut tells me, and, not incidentally, what I’ve learned is the opinion of some genuinely right wing members of Likud.
It’s a game. And the name of the game is “show how much more eager for peace you are than the other side.” That’s so you won’t be blamed when it falls apart and the international community (and particularly the US) will understand. It’s perceived as a way of protecting our interests.
Thus does Netanyahu say, “We’re ready to go a long way, in a short time, for genuine peace.” And thus does he call Abbas (forgive me for this) his “partner for peace.”
As I said, revolting. The goal of seeming the good guy does not justify groveling and loss of integrity.
And we still have to see what happens when the construction freeze comes to an end on the 26th. Does “going a long way” mean extending that freeze? (The US will be all too involved here.)
Already, we see finger pointing and subtle accusations. Netanyahu has said, pointedly, that peace requires sacrifices on both sides — setting the scene for blaming Abbas for not making any sacrifices. And he won’t.
That’s what’s going to save us, as always is the case: Palestinian Arab intransigence and backtracking. The talks will fall apart.
Today it was in the news that both Marwan Barghouti and Muhammad Dahlan are criticizing Abbas for going to the table. These are people within Abbas’s own Fatah party, each with stature and a following. Just more evidence that Abbas is close to powerless and cannot pull off a deal.
Netanyahu and Abbas met privately yesterday and apparently have committed to meeting again in two weeks, somewhere in this region — perhaps Egypt. The deal is that they’ll reach agreement (yea, right) on major issues and allow staff to then flesh out details.
What worries me is not that there’ll be “two states” in a year, but that in the course of these negotiations Netanyahu will concede certain things in principle that will come to haunt us later. Even if nothing is signed, and there is nothing binding about what he says, it will come back at us.
And that he will fail to protect our interests and rights in the land, in the short term. We must start by asking why he’s sitting at a table with the man who heads an administrative authority that produces books that tell their children killing us — for the sake of jihad — is good. Is he saying this doesn’t matter? That it’s OK to give stature to the man who promotes this, to make Obama happy?
These negotiations are not without costs.