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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Will 'direct talks' end before they start?

'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen is threatening to blow up the 'direct talks' with Israel before they start over an extension of the 'settlement freeze' beyond its scheduled September 26 expiration date. For its part, the Netanyahu government is apparently willing to give a partial extension of the freeze, but not all Abu Mazen is demanding. And President Obama is in no position to push for more just a few weeks before an election in which his party is headed for a bloodbath.
The PA president’s letter is clearly a response to the severe criticism directed at him by Palestinian political and organizational figures for agreeing to return to direct talks without preconditions. But it also highlights a major political dilemma that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be forced to face very soon.

It would be political suicide for Netanyahu to agree to maintain the “once-only” 10-month new-construction freeze he instituted throughout Judea and Samaria last November, not to mention extending it to Jewish neighborhoods in parts of east Jerusalem annexed after the Six Day War, as the Palestinians demand. It would also send out the false message that Israel might be ready to evacuate all Jewish settlements beyond the 1949 Armistice lines.

Deputy Premier Dan Meridor’s suggestion to limit the freeze to areas located outside Jerusalem and outside the major settlement blocs Israel intends to retain via land swaps under a permanent accord – Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and the Etzion settlements – has a much better chance of receiving broad support, and is much more realistic.

Except Abbas has now made clear that it won’t be sufficient.
Most of the violations of the freeze have taken place within the 'settlement blocs,' which include some of the fastest growing cities and towns in the country.
THE PRESENT building freeze has hit settlers hard. Most of the 492 housing unit “violations” of the freeze, as documented by Peace Now, were in consensus cities such as the haredi Modi’in Illit, which had 180 such violations. This town of 45,000, which has the highest fertility rate in the country, is located just across the Green Line.

Additional violations were in the Jerusalem suburb of Givat Ze’ev (40), and in Ariel (22), Ma’aleh Adumim (21) and Kfar Etzion (20), which are all expected to be annexed under any future two-state solution.
My guess is that if the government stands firm, Abu Mazen will not blow up the talks. He has no other reason to be in power. And we have seen over the last 18 months that he loves to be in power.

What could go wrong?


At 10:06 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel should say "NO" to Palestinian blackmail and note the other side is the one that wants a state. If they don't want it, the revanants will remain in place and there will be no Palestinian state. The Americans should explain the facts of life to Abu Bluff and his chief bottle washer Erekat. The Palestinians have no real interest in the revanants. As it stands, the real question is whether they want to make peace and end the conflict. Their engaging in political theater casts doubt on the answer to that question.


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