“Turns out your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. See, mostly dead is still slightly alive.” (Billy Crystal as Miracle Max the Wizard, in the Princess Bride)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planted the seeds of failure for this round of talks, very early in the administration. It was Ms. Clinton who made the settlements an issue.
During the Bush administration, there were negotiations going on between the two sides while additional units being added to settlements. Once Ms Clinton decided that additional Jews should not be allowed to live in Judea and Samaria, despite an earlier agreement with the American Govt., only then did it become a precondition for the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel.
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During the negotiations to begin negotiations, approximately ten months ago, the Palestinians agreed not to apply for recognition as a state to various U.N. organizations and Israel agreed to release convicted terrorists in four segments. The problem with this deal was each list of prisoners was another negotiation, and a tough one. Each release of prisoners was another opportunity for talks to break down. And in the end it was the negotiation of the last group of prisoners that sent the negotiations down the road to collapse. At the time that Palestinian President Abbas broke the agreement and went to the UN, they said that Israel was delaying the forth prisoner release, truth is (according to Israeli negotiator and “peacenik” Tzipi Livni the parties were in the middle of negotiating which terrorists would be released. If Netanyahu was able to offer a settlement freeze instead of a prisoner release, it might not have saved the talks, but it may have made them easier to keep them going.
The straw that broke the camel’s back is when after years of failure the Fatah “moderate” terrorists negotiated a reconciliation deal with the Hamas extremist terrorist. While both Fatah and Hamas call for the destruction of Israel, Hamas is more overt in it’s threats, making them in all languages and is considered a terrorist group even by the appeasement-prone European Union. Fatah, on the other hand is considered “moderate” because its call for the destruction of Israel are only made in Arabic.
Fatah Spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi claimed that Hamas had agreed to work toward peace, saying the “terms of the national reconciliation agreement are clear: Palestine honors its commitments, respects international law and continues its popular nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation.”
But no one told Hamas. Top Hamas official Hassan Yousef announced the terror group would not renounce its commitment to violence and the destruction of Israel. Another Hamas leader Ra’fat Murra announced, “The option of negotiations has failed, Palestinian resistance remains the right option.”
After the agreement was announced Israeli PM Netanyahu said he would not negotiate with a government which includes Hamas unless it renounces violence and terrorism (which is as likely as Nancy Pelosi calling for the repeal of Obamacare).
The U.S. agreed. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the US was troubled by the announcement, which “could seriously complicate” negotiations to extend peace negotiations.
“This certainly is disappointing and raises concerns about our efforts to extend the negotiations,” she said.
“It is hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that doesn’t believe in its right to exist.” She also indicated there could be broader implications for an array of US policies towards Palestine, including aid, should Hamas enter into government without abiding a set of principles, including recognition of Israel, agreement to previous agreements, and a commitment to non-violence, dictated by Washington.”
At the time Israel cut off the talks Prime Minister had already put on the table a settlement freeze and a willingness to move begin the discussion of permanent borders, yet the Palestinians still made the reconciliation with Hamas, a move they knew would force Israel to back off the talks.
John Kerry also made mistakes in this process. Perhaps the biggest of which was his naïve belief that the Palestinians wanted to make peace. At the beginning of Obama’s first term he put peace talks on the front burner. However three years later he had all but abandoned the effort, realizing that the Palestinians weren’t yet ready to make peace.
When Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton at Foggy Bottom, he told Obama that Palestinian, Israel peace was one of his priorities and the President backed him up. After realizing the Palestinians were not willing to compromise, Kerry doubled down on forcing Israel to compromise, which they did until a Palestinian demand that Israel release Israel Arabs who were not Palestinians, but Israelis from prison, that’s when the Jonathan Pollard discussions began.
The administration’s other error was being fair to a fault. Every time the Palestinians made a provocative move, they found a way to blame both sides. For example, when Abbas agreed to the recognition with Hamas, the US backed up Israel’s decision to end discussions. But a few days later, The Daily Beast reported that Secretary of State Kerry told influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting of the Trilateral Commission,
“If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state.” Kerry also repeated his warning that a failure of Middle East peace talks could lead to a resumption of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens. He suggested that a change in either the Israeli or Palestinian leadership could make achieving a peace deal more feasible. He lashed out against Israeli settlement building. And Kerry said that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders share the blame for the current impasse in the talks.”
Thus the failure went full circle, the Palestinians destroyed the talks by going back to the terrorists, and the U.S. went back to blaming Israel for sticking to an agreement it made with the U. S. when Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister. As described by the Elliot Abrams, the man who negotiated the deal for the United States:
“On settlements we also agreed on principles that would permit some continuing growth. Mr. Sharon stated these clearly in a major policy speech in December 2003: ‘Israel will meet all its obligations with regard to construction in the settlements. There will be no construction beyond the existing construction line, no expropriation of land for construction, no special economic incentives and no construction of new settlements.”
There is plenty of blame to go around for the failure of the latest round of negotiations. Hillary Clinton made settlements an issue; Bibi Netanyahu should have gone for a settlement freeze instead of a prisoner release, and the Obama administration was naïve in believing Abbas wanted peace, thought they could get peace by pressuring and blaming only one side.
In the end the biggest reason for the failure of the talks lies with one simple fact. The Palestinians don’t want peace. Think about it, name some concessions the Israeli’s have made, from giving up control of Gaza almost nine years ago to the latest prisoner release (on top of all the other prisoner releases). Now try to name some concessions by the “moderate” Palestinian Terrorists. Have they even stopped inciting their people to hate Jews, or recognized the Jewishness of Israel?
While neither the mainstream media or the Obama administration will recognize the truth, the ultimate blame for killing this latest round of talks should rest firmly in the laps of the Palestinians.