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Aftermath of Abbas-Netanyahu Clash

International Quartet Proposes New Round Of Israeli- Palestinian Peace Talks After Palestinian Bid Fails For Full UN Recognition

Prime Minister Netanyahu: 'I'm Ready To Go To Serious Negotiations Prepared To Give But Also To Get'. President Abbas Says He Will Consult First With Palestinian Leadership While Insisting On Reference to 1967 Lines & Settlements'

Isracast Assessment: Although Netanyahu & His Supporters Stress 'Important Achievement' In Blocking Palestinian Gambit His Critics Call It A 'Pyrrhic Victory'

UN General Assembly hall (photo: Patrick Gruban)

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has apparently failed in his attempt to acquire UN Security Council for full recognition of a Palestinian state. This after U.S. President Barack Obama declared that peace between Israel and the Palestinians could only be negotiated by the parties and not imposed by UN resolutions. The U.S. could cast her veto to block the Palestinian application, if nine of the fifteen members voted in favor. The international Quartet is now trying to resuscitate the moribund peace talks - Netanyahu has said Yes, Abbas has yet to announce his position.

After the Abbas -Netanyahu verbal slugfest at the UN General Assembly, the 'Quartet' has stepped into the breach- the U.S., the EU, Russia and China have proposed a new round of Israeli- Palestinian negotiations. The proposal is tailored to suit both sides. It does not refer to terms of reference such as the old 1967 lines and Israeli settlements, while ignoring Israel's demand the Palestinian recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Interviewed on Channel 2, Netanyahu replied that he would take up the Quartet's offer and he hoped Abbas would do the same. The Israeli PM spoke of his important achievement in blocking the diplomatic campaign against Israel at the UN; he had also presented Israel's truth to tens millions of listeners around the globe. Although the UN was, more often than not, hostile toward the Jewish state it was vital to present the basic facts on the world stage. And the truth was that Palestinian President Abbas had adopted a strategy of dodging peace talks and then blaming Israel for the deadlock. The Palestinian leader had tried to steer clear of direct talks with Israel via the UN but it didn't work.

Netanyahu wanted to know why no one asking the Palestinians what they would be willing to give in return for their Palestinian state: 'What security arrangements would Israel get so that the tragedy of Gaza would not be repeated?' (In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew from every inch of the Gaza Strip which since then has been exploited by the Palestinians as a giant launch pad to fire thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians across the border.) The Israeli leader stated that he would take up the Quartet's offer and that he was prepared for serious negotiations in which he would be ready to give, but also to get. And he was convinced that his approach represented the Israeli consensus.

Mahmoud Abbas, Benyamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

As for U.S. President Barack Obama's opposition to UN recognition of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu rejected that this was due to the Jewish vote in the Presidential election campaign. On the contrary, the vast majority of Americans supported Israel and they perceived Israel as one of America's closest allies, superceeded only by Britain and Canada. When asked if he would be the Israeli prime minister who would negotiate the founding of a Palestinian state Netanyahu replied: 'I will be the Prime Minister who insists on the two state solution, one of which is demilitarized and that will provide the required security arrangements, while recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. If the Palestinians agree to this then I will be that prime minister'.

Meanwhile back in Gaza, angry Hamas spokesmen castigated West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas for seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state on only the 1967 line and not the whole of Israel. They declared emphatically, including to Israeli TV interviewers, that the Palestinians would never give up an inch of all the Palestinian lands. This again highlighted the fact that while Mahmoud Abbas purported to represent the entire Palestinian people, in fact he represents less than half, if Gaza and the refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are included. Netanyahu could have asked Abbas just how he intended to persuade Hamas in Gaza to desist from trying to annihilate the Jewish state. On the West Bank, Palestinians celebrated peacefully the Abbas speech at the UN, while venting their anger on President Obama for essentially backing Netanyahu's position that an Israeli- Palestinian peace deal had to be negotiated by the parties and not imposed by the UN. One Palestinian was killed, apparently by IDF gunfire, during a clash reportedly started by settlers. The IDF had gone on high alert in light of the events at the UN, with strict orders to try and avoid Palestinian casualties, something that could have triggered massive violence. As it was, coordination between Israeli and Palestinian security forces proved to be very high and this averted confrontations.

Netanyahu and his supporters back home are playing up the obvious failure of the Palestinians to acquire full recognition by the Security Council, due to the U.S. objection. However, critics caution that the General Assembly's sweeping support for the Palestinians is a factor the Israeli government ignores at the state's peril. It is true the cards are stacked against Israel in the General Assembly that actually partially recognized Palestine back in 1988. However there is no denying that a massive vote for the Palestinians is an indication of the Jewish state's isolation in many parts of the international community. Therefore, Prime Minister Netanyahu may have won a Pyrrhic victory at best. What was evident at the UN was that neither the Israeli nor Palestinian leader can present a maximum offer that his partner can accept as a bare minimum. Therefore they resorted to a fruitless debate over their rights and the other side's in the conflict.

What rankled most Israelis was the Abbas attempt not only to distort history but to actually rewrite it. He referred to Jerusalem as being sacred to Muslims and Christians without any reference to the Jews. He also dealt on the Palestinian 'Nakba' catastrophe of 1948 precipitated by the UN Partition that called for a two state solution - Jewish and Palestinian, but that was rejected by the Arabs. In fact, it was the invasion by seven Arab armies that caused the Nakba. If the Arabs had accepted the Partition Plan there would have been a Palestinian state back in 1948 and no Palestinian refugees. But alas to this very day, sixty-three years later, part of the Palestinians still vow to destroy Israel while Abbas himself still declares that he will never recognize a Jewish state. If he were to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, this would pull the rug out from under a future Palestinian demand that all the Palestinian refugees be permitted to return to their previous homes inside Israel, something that would obviously swamp the Jewish state.

David Essing

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