Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Netanyahu Tries to Scuttle Peace Talks Again

by Ira Chernus, Antiwar.com, October 19, 2010

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once against scuttled a chance for progress in the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. You didn’t know? Don’t feel bad. It all happened so quickly that hardly anyone noticed it – except in Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority has its offices. There they know all too well what happened, and why.

This latest chapter in Israel’s war against peace began at the end of September, when Netanyahu’s moratorium on expansion of the West Bank settlements ended. The U.S. called for a two-month extension, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that he’d break off the talks if building in settlements began again. How could he accept less from Israel than what the U.S. demanded?

Netanyahu kept the world in suspense in early October while he figured out what he must have thought was a clever maneuver. He’d agree to the extension, he said, in return for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

Background: Israel has always called on its neighbors to recognize its “right to exist.” The Palestinians gave that recognition many years ago. Under Netanyahu, the Israeli government has upped the ante: demanding recognition of Israel as “a Jewish state” and “the state of the Jewish people” and dishonestly treating the new demand as equivalent to simply recognizing Israel’s “right to exist,” knowing full well that the Palestinians would find it much harder to accept this new version of the demand. In fact, Netanyahu must have hoped the Palestinians would find it impossible.

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