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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Are the 'Palestinians' now susceptible to pressure?

Herb Keinon argues that the fact that the 'Palestinians' have agreed to participate in the 'proximity talks' without getting a full 'settlement freeze' that includes 'east' Jerusalem, shows that like Israel, the 'Palestinians' now have shifting red lines and that like Israel, the 'Palestinians' are susceptible to pressue.
So when Abbas said for months and months that he would not enter into negotiations with Israel unless and until there was a full settlement freeze, including east Jerusalem, it seemed this was a firm Palestinian red line – not one of those pliable Israeli ones – and that he meant what he said.

Well, now we see the Palestinians can also move red lines, which is worth noting as some kind of talks resume.

Equally important is to understand that the reason Abbas was willing to move his red line was because he came under intense pressure from the US, certain elements inside the EU, and from Arab states such as Egypt and Jordan to start talks, even though all his conditions were not met.
Keinon goes on to describe some of the possible scenarios when the round of 'proximity talks' end in July - at the same time that the Goldstone Report comes to the UN again and just before Israel has to decide whether to renew its 'settlement freeze.' Keinon argues that it shows that the 'Palestinians' can be pressured.

I disagree. I don't believe that Abu Mazen 'folding' on the 'settlement freeze' proves anything. The demand for a full 'settlement freeze' was never his - it was President Obama's. Abu Mazen could not afford to let President Obama be more 'Palestinian' than the 'Palestinians,' so he adopted President Obama's demand as his own. He has been looking for a way to climb down that tree ever since. The Arab League and the 'proximity talks' were Abu Mazen's ladder to climb down.

I don't expect Abu Mazen to be looking for a freeze in four months' time. I expect him to be looking for an Israeli commitment to a 'Palestinian state' 'based on' the 1967 borders. And I don't expect him to fold - even if it means that the 'talks' come to an end.

What could go wrong?


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