Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why Abbas Does Not Want To Resume Peace Talks

by Khaled Abu Toameh
The leaders of the Palestinian Authority have reached the conclusion that, under the current circumstances, it would be a waste of time to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

They are convinced that the only way to get anything is by rallying pressure from the international community against Israel.

It is for this reason that representatives of the Palestinians have been negotiating with the Europeans and Americans about the peace process -- not with Israel.

The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is negotiating about the peace process, but with the foreign ministers of France, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the UK and not with Israel. Almost every step this leadership takes is fully coordinated in advance with Western diplomats and their governments.

They believe that at present Israel is more isolated than ever in the international arena, particularly in light of the UN’s Gaza War report, the “Goldstone Report.”

The Palestinian leadership has chosen to confront Israel in the international arena, and not at the negotiating table. Abbas’s strategy is to further isolate Israel in the world through boycotts and anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and other international forums.

They see growing support for Palestinians in many European capitals, and are convinced that this will eventually be translated into heavy pressure on Israel.

This is why he is prepared to wait and wait. He believes that the longer he waits, the more Israel will come under pressure.

Palestinian leaders see that the UN and almost all European governments have entirely endorsed the Palestinian narrative in the Israeli-Arab conflict Palestinian, namely that Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, including half of Jerusalem, and allow the establishment of a Fatah-controlled state in these territories.

They see increased anti-Israel sentiments in the West and are encouraged that Israel will not be able to tolerate hostility, isolation and boycott for a long time.

Abbas believes that the international community is negotiating with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. He is fully convinced that only increased pressure on Israel, and not negotiations, will bring about a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders.

And since the whole world, with the possible exception of the US Administration, “is on our side,” why bother return to the negotiating table with Israel?

The belief among the Palestinian leadership is that it is only a matter of time before Israel succumbs to the growing international pressure.

By negotiating with Abbas and his government, the Western governments are, in fact, keeping the Palestinians from resuming peace talks with Israel. Instead of negotiating with Abbas, these governments should be urging him to return to the negotiations with Israel as soon as possible and before it is too late.

But for now Abbas does not seem to be in a rush; this is why those who believe that real peace talks could be “revived” in the near future are living under an illusion. Abbas has set out his demands and conditions in a clear and straight manner and he is waiting for the international community to help him achieve all his goals.

If Abbas wants to prove his claim that Israel “does not want peace,” then he should return to the negotiating table tomorrow morning and show the world which party is to blame for the stalemate.

Hudson New York

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