Tzipi Livni doesn’t have much nice to say about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who recently fired her as justice minister and brought on early elections. She’s running on the same ticket as Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog and will do anything to unseat the incumbent. But “anything” doesn’t include blaming Netanyahu for the failed peace talks with the Palestinians.
In a revealing interview with The New York Times that appears this week, Livni admits that Netanyahu was willing to accept an American framework agreement based on the Obama administration’s views on borders, security, Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron, Palestinian “refugees” and Yerushalayim.
If Netanyahu crossed the Rubicon, and agreed to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders with agreed-upon land swaps, why did the talks come crashing down in a colossal failure?
Livni, who headed Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians and knows all the players and behind-the-scenes intrigue, points the finger of blame at PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. He stubbornly refused to give his consent to negotiating with Israel on the basis of the very generous American framework deal.
In what was described by top PA negotiator Saeb Erekat as a “difficult” meeting with President Barack Obama, Abbas on March 17, 2014, sat in the Oval Office and refused to accept the framework agreement (which was never made public), despite heavy pressure from the president.
The indefatigable, some would say hopelessly unrealistic, Secretary of State John Kerry, managed to artificially revive the “peace process” for another few weeks. During this time, Israel prepared a draft statement to put the talks back on track. In it, the Netanyahu government agreed to release the fourth and final tranche of terrorist murderers; the Americans, l’havdil, were to free Jonathan Pollard, and the negotiations were to continue beyond the April 29 deadline. Israel even agreed to a partial freeze of “settlement” building.
Abbas responded by thumbing his nose at Israel and signing papers to join 15 international agencies, openly contradicting his promise not to take any such action before the deadline.
The final nail in the peace process coffin came on April 23, when Abbas signed a unity agreement with Hamas, a terror organization that openly declares its intention to destroy Israel, R”l.
It’s no wonder, then, that Livni and most of the “peace camp” is downplaying the peace process in these elections and focusing on domestic issues like the cost of living. They realize that peace with the Palestinians isn’t uppermost on the mind of Israelis, and for good reason. Abbas has proven to them that no matter what any government offers, he will not sign a peace agreement that gives Israel secure borders, limits the return of Palestinian “refugees” and recognizes it as a Jewish state.
What is wondrous, astounding even, is that the world doesn’t see through Abbas. The evidence is clear that Netanyahu, who is always described in the media as “extreme right wing” (Abbas is the “Western-backed” moderate), was willing to make far-reaching concessions to advance peace talks leading to a two-state solution, and Abbas wasn’t.
It’s obvious that Abbas is now turning to the United Nations Security Council, instead of sitting at the negotiating table with Netanyahu, because he doesn’t want to make any concessions. Gain without pain.
In light of this, it’s clear that his statehood resolution to the United Nations this week calling for a peace deal with Israel within a year and “two sovereign, democratic and secure states, Palestine and Israel” by 2017 is a sham.
It is disappointing that instead of being coy about whether it would exercise its veto in the Security Council to nix the statehood resolution, the State Department didn’t openly declare that Israel had agreed to good-faith bilateral negotiations and the Palestinians hadn’t. Such a declaration might have enlightened the Security Council as to Abbas’ motivation and made a veto unnecessary.
And it is bitterly disappointing that despite the far-reaching concessions made by Netanyahu to advance the peace talks, and Abbas’ rejectionism, one European parliament after another has agreed to recognize a state of Palestine.
The United Nations and Europe need to put Abbas on notice that his attempts to use them to browbeat Israel into accepting a bad deal won’t work. They should grab him by the shoulders, point him in the direction of the Israeli government, and tell him that’s the only place he can obtain a Palestinian state, and nowhere else.
Most importantly, statehood comes with a price. And if he isn’t willing to pay it, in terms of ensuring that the Jewish state of Israel has secure borders, he can forget about realizing his dream of being president of “Palestine.”